Ink in the Wheels: Stories to Make Love Roll

December 31, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Posted in Ink in the Wheels: Stories to Make Love Roll | Leave a comment
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InkintheWheelsFrontCoverInk in the Wheels: Stories To Make Love Roll

We’re excited to be publishing our memoir Ink in the Wheels: Stories to Make Love Roll, to be released February 2013! This project has been five years in the making. Originally, we were going to write our story just after we were married, but in the eight years of our marriage, we’ve learned many lessons about inter-ability marriage that are vital in the discussion of independence for those with disabilities with themes that include our own story, family dynamics, intimacy, finances and work, and losing faith in each other and ourselves- and finding it again.

Check out our new website here:
http://www.inkinthewheels.com

You can always read about our personal adventures on our personal Love Rolls On blog here!

You can watch our book trailer here!

In the Midst of Change

September 11, 2012 at 11:06 am | Posted in Megan's Blogs, Ramblings, The Nitty-Gritty | 1 Comment
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We’ve had a busy few months! After getting home from Hawaii, both Barton and I went into work overdrive, partially to try to deal all of the house repair we’ve had this summer (from the foundation of our house, air conditioner and our water heater breaking). We’ve had some major overhaul of our work, and the time of writing and editing our manuscript has taken nearly taken up every weekend.

In the midst of changing schedules, workloads and new responsibilities, we’ve been hard pressed to find any down time. And yet downtime has been so important to keep us going, so we can come back and be ever more focused.

We try to have one day each weekend as a crash day, and I’ve tried to be more forgiving when I don’t get all of the work done over the weekend. I’ve had to let go of having everything be perfect all of the time.

But what really helps us is making sure we stay connected. On Friday nights, we go out- I ride in Barton’s lap as we go to a nearby restaurant, and afterwards we watch a band play at a local music night.  It becomes a way to end the week, and a time for us to reconnect without all of the conversations purely about logistics, work or the book. We try to finish all of the half-conversations we’ve had during the week, process all the new changes and dream about what’s coming up ahead.

Over the past few years, we both have worked on refining parts of ourselves that needed to be cared for. For example, one childhood pattern that I had fallen into was anytime I felt scared, about anything- even something positive, it would express itself as frustration. And it impacted Barton & I in that anytime I was faced with something I didn’t know, resistance would pop up. Of course Barton would react to that, and then we’d have a cycle going, no fun.

Looking at the emotions behind frustration or resistance, and working on the ability to show the genuine emotion more, then Barton can come in, and we can work from a place of trust rather than bouncing off each other. Barton has done the same thing in looking at difference places within himself.

By caring for ourselves individually, we can come together better as a couple. We don’t have it figured out all of the time, but coming from a place of vulnerability creates trust and respect, and we have found it leads to a deeper love and laughter that makes life much more fun!

This past weekend, while we didn’t edit the book, we did take time to reconnect as a couple, something we really needed. And then, we go back into the fray, with new challenges for the week, but also a vision that somehow makes it all flow.

A Vacation in Paradise

July 26, 2012 at 1:49 am | Posted in Megan's Blogs, Ramblings | 3 Comments
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Helicopter ride over the volcano, as if we don't already have enough adventure. It was a blast!

Helicopter ride over the volcano, as if we don’t already have enough adventure. It was a blast!

We’ve received many questions about our trip to HI- where did we visit, why did we go, how did we get around, is Hawaii accessible? When we found out that Barton’s uncle passed away earlier this year, we knew there was talk of a family reunion in Hawaii. We had dreams of lazing by the ocean sipping Pina Coladas and Margaritas. However, when we found out that Barton’s contract would be frozen and with all of the uncertainty that goes along with that, we put off our dreams. We assumed we would either know if his contract was being renewed and be celebrating or if we would be closing up our house and finding another way of life.

Yet, the uncertainty remained as Barton’s contract was extended for a few more months, but not yet fully renewed either. In the mean time, we put our feet to work to discover new work opportunities. So our focus shifted from a full vacation or what we expected the summer to look like to family sustainability.

Barton’s family hosted us for an amazing week of adventure, renewal and relaxation, and one of Barton’s best buddies hosted us for two weekends in Honolulu also full of fun and adventure. We are so appreciative of our family and friends who gave us the time we needed to step back, take a breath of fresh air and relax.

With all of the external craziness we experienced with finding new work, a major house repair, losing AC and Barton’s 24-hour bug, we literally packed the day before we left. As exhausted as we were, we were still too excited to sleep on the plane.

Barton and Megan at Pearl Harbor.

Barton and Megan at Pearl Harbor.

As soon as we arrived, we were met with lays, beautiful and fitting for each of us. The next day we went to Pearl Harbor, so close to July 4th, it was a day of honoring those who served our country and lost their lives. Both Barton and I were deeply moved. Later, we enjoyed meeting new friends and hanging out.

We also visited the Veterans Memorial on Punchbowl. We found the elevator wouldn’t work to go to the top of the memorial. Grounds staff came, and an amazing thing happened. While they couldn’t fix the elevator, they took us all over the grounds in their golf cart. It was an amazing gesture, and over and over we would talk about how gracious their staff was to us.

Chilling by the Pool.

Chilling by the Pool.

On the Island of Hawaii (the Big Island) we spent time with family, a memorial service on the water, relaxing by the pool, laughing and telling stories over dinner. We did find that the property on the resort was so big that we did have to walk quite a long ways from one place to another. So it wasn’t as accessible as we would have liked. It took us until mid-week to really decompress from all of the mayhem that we had left behind at home.

At the Summit.

At the Summit.

One day, we took a helicopter ride over the East Ridge of one of the only active volcanoes in Hawaii. At the summit, a rainbow appeared beside the crest with steaming smoke. Both of us were so excited.

Arriving back in Honolulu, we had a completely different experience, equally fabulous, walking the streets in Waikiki, a drive to the north shore beaches, the best food and pastries one could ever ask for. It was a weekend of pure indulgence and delight.

Sadly, the day before we left our trainer called to let us know Basho, one of our dogs had died naturally during our vacation. The ride home was one of sorrow, and sleep. And yet, we were still marveling at the adventures we had had while we were away.

Real Life Disability: What Do You Do When the Whole World Doesn’t Think You Are a Man

July 20, 2012 at 11:32 am | Posted in Megan's Blogs, Ramblings, The Nitty-Gritty, Wild Stories You Just Wouldn't Believe | 1 Comment
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Man and wife.

Barton taking Megan out.

Have you ever heard of the expression, “Good intentions can lead to hell” or “The world is full of well intentioned fools?”

When I met Barton, I was one of them. We were washing dishes, and I talked down to Barton in my sweet Southern voice. Until a friend took me aside, “Do you have a problem with Barton. You are patronizing him. He has been through all the training you have, and more. Don’t patronize him.” From then on, I have seen Barton just as I would any other guy, one who holds his own, and is very capable of making decisions. Now, I tend to forget about this veil, until it is thrown back in our faces, that is.

Barton and I were just at the point of recovering from our hell week that Barton mentioned in our previous blog, and we had a fabulous week in Hawaii, though came home grieving the loss of our dog Basho while we were away. We were getting our footing this week, feeling positive, energized and focused.

Barton had a meeting, and was driving his motor wheelchair along side a busy road close to our home. The joystick to his wheelchair came off, and flew into the busy road. He stopped a woman to help him get it, but the woman obviously had her own story in her head, assumed Barton was in distress or had mental difficulties and called the Raleigh Police Department and the local EMS.

What ensued was outrageous. Barton tried as hard has could to speak, but was so flustered and upset this woman had actually called the police, all he could say was, “I’m fine.”Unfortunately, in excitable situations, Barton’s speech is even more slurred. He was not given the time or space to explain that it was not a big deal, he just needed someone to pick up the joystick, put it on so he could be on his way.

Barton was not listened to by anyone, not understood, not respected, and he was not given a choice to leave.

The local EMS was even worse, and if we had grounds, we would sue them. They tried to take control of his motor wheelchair by putting it in neutral, demanded to walk him to his destination. One EMS staff even told him, “If you die, and WRAL gets a hold of this, it will ruin our reputation.” The EMS tried to disable the motor on his wheelchair, a piece of equipment that costs over $30,000. Not only that, but Barton’s motor wheelchair is his only means of independence, and here, they were disabling his freedom and independence as a man.

Ironically, Barton and I do so much to educate inclusion awareness, inclusion leadership training for organizations, personal empowerment and community safety. In fact, in just a few weeks, we will be teaching a self-defense program called DisAbled Protection to Bridge II Sports participants.

Later, as we began debriefing the situation, Barton talked about how much energy he spent just trying to be seen as a man, a person. We tend to compartmentalize people into categories and boxes, according to what we think we know. So what happens when we have a situation we don’t know? Especially for the police community, who are trained to see people as needing help or needing to be stopped from harming others. There are victims and bad guys. Many people see Barton as a victim, someone who needs to be cared for. They don’t see him a capable, resourceful and whole, which sadly they miss out on the wonderful personality and gifts that he has to offer the world.

Unfortunately, there is just about no way to speak to and educate the woman who called the police, about what really was going on. Barton feels bad because if the police officers had actually listened to him and understood the situation, they would have had a good laugh at how silly this woman was. And he feels bad that they were taken away from their job, of helping those in real need.

And instead of laughing at how absurd this woman was or the situation was, Barton came home upset, angry and saying, “What do you do when the whole world doesn’t think or treat you like a man.”

And sadly, there are no answers.

The Week That Wouldn’t End

July 15, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Posted in Barton's Blogs, Ramblings, The Nitty-Gritty, Wild Stories You Just Wouldn't Believe | 1 Comment
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Have you ever had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day? Well, we had one crazy week before our vacation.

Monday at 4am we drove to Charlotte to be at a daylong meeting.

Tuesday, 6am: drove home to meet clients for both Megan & I. We got home at 5pm to find Basho, our younger dog, limping. Megan took him to the vet, after x-rays found he would need surgery. Woke up at 1am, trying to decide what to do for him & was less than compassionate toward Megan.

Wednesday: Megan rushed to catch up on work as a construction crew came to repair the foundation of our house. 2pm: ran to the doctor’s office to have my pump refill, 4:30 Megan & I hadn’t eaten all day, picked up a burger & shake. 5pm: five minutes to breathe & eat. 6:30pm: On the way to bed, felt nauseous. 9:30 after 2 1/2 hrs of sleep woke up & got sick. Megan threw me in my bath chair to clean the sheets, wash me off. We decided it was wiser if I slept in my chair tipped back against the wall. 5am woke up cramped from sleeping in my chair but Megan was asleep, so I wasn’t going to say a thing. Woke up every hour for the next four hours.

Construction crew arrived at 9am on Thursday. I slept till 12:30 even after Megan asked me to wake up because she had to leave. 1:15pm: Megan enters “Barton, have you heard the AC. Come out on the back porch.” I go out on the deck & hear what resembles a sub-machine gun on steroids. We turn the AC off. 7pm Megan calls all of our neighbors trying to find someone who has floor fans that we can borrow. 9:30pm friends deliver 2 high-power fans from their office. 10pm sleep maybe.

Friday 6am: the ultimate test chicken noodle soup. It stays down thank God. Trying to rehydrate, pounded an entire liter of Poweraid in less than 5 min. 12pm: the final floor lift. We hold our breath, what else could go wrong? Will we have plumbing? Who knows, and we have to leave. 1pm: Chapel Hill Megan & I present an hour and a half video seminar on self-care for professionals yes, I did say self care. 3:30 Finally get home, I hope our plumbing still works. Only three cracked tiles in the bathroom, and the toilet still flushes. I’m saved. Megan wants to go out for dinner. I still don’t trust my stomach; no way I’m eating real food yet.

Saturday 3am: This morning I wake up on my side and need to roll over. I wake Megan who is irritable because she’s been so sleep deprived. 9am: Wake up have a marvelous conversation with my love while cuddling in bed, up by 10, coffee shop by 10:30, working on the book. 2pm: Home to finish my article, it’s 86 degrees inside the house & we sit on the sofa to do nothing because it’s too hot to move. We survive by eating Italian Ice. Sunset 8:30, Megan & I still have work to do.

Some weeks are like this. We need a vacation. Thank God we got one!!

Barton and Megan on the Bis Island.

 

Barton and Megan on The Big Island.

Barton and Megan on The Big Island.

Barton and Megan at Volcano Park with Rainbow

Barton and Megan at Volcano Park with Rainbow

Drinking from a coconut, Oahu.

Drinking from a coconut, Oahu.

We returned from vacation to find that Basho had suddenly passed away. To our Wild Child, you brought joy and youthful vitality into our lives, you will be missed!

An Honest Message About the Portrayal of Disabilities and Relationships

June 9, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Posted in Megan's Blogs, Ramblings, The Nitty-Gritty | 1 Comment
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Barton and Megan Cutter

A picture we took a while back, how we see our relationship, but not everyone has the same perspective.

Barton and I had one of the roughest weeks in a while, unraveling a mess of an issue. And while I can’t go into the specifics & detail for privacy reasons, what I do want to share is how people perceive us, and what can happen with that perception.

When we meet people for the first time, we are greeted by messages of ‘intentional’ support. I am told, “You are so good for marrying him, what you do for him is wonderful, you make him so happy.”

Normally we receive a burst of excitement with the opportunity to share another perspective to burst some of these myths.

And we give a perspective that people rarely see. They don’t know the times when Barton picks dinner up for us because I’ve had an exhausting day or when he takes work off my hands or when we kiss. And we delight in the chance to share our story, to break down barriers. It’s why we do what we do.

But this was different. This was someone who potentially had shape over how a couple with a disability was shown in public. And while we didn’t say what we needed to up front, it was something we just couldn’t let go.

This wasn’t the first time someone in the disability field gave a contradictory message. One of my first experiences with a disability organization was the president telling a member of my family that I should not marry Barton- it would be too hard and the issues for a couple with a disability couldn’t be overcome. And issue after issue was brought up to me- housing, care, transportation…. Sadly, this shaped the way my family received Barton, and it wasn’t until much later that Barton was seen for the brilliant person he is.

All because one person, who didn’t know us, told us it would be too hard. Is it hard? Sometimes, yes. Is any relationship hard? Yes- and I’d love to see one that was completely perfect. Is it worth it- beyond anything I could have ever imagined. And if I had listened to this person and had not married Barton, my life would be so empty. I can’t even think about where or who I would be.

And so with the issues that came up this last week, I just couldn’t stand by with my mouth shut. For our own personal empowerment, but more so for many other people who are affected by these false perspectives.

It’s one thing for when our book comes out for someone to disagree or write about their perspective, or make a comment on our story (which I admit, I am a bit nervous about). But it’s another to have our own perspective twisted into a way that patronizes either one of us. And so over the course of a very emotional week, we have been taking steps to correct this.

(my words with some omissions for privacy concerns)

I know when we walked around, you mentioned that Barton was so happy because of his beautiful wife who takes care of him. Ironically, this is a perspective we work very hard to change. I didn’t marry Barton to take care of him and he was happy before we met. I think the pictures of us are ok to use, but I wanted to make sure the portrayal of an inter-ability relationship was more accurate. I think if you had sat down to talk with us and asked us what shots would be appropriate for a couple, you would have realized the difference of perspectives we hope to share with the public.

The Thank You List

May 11, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Posted in Megan's Blogs, Our Love Story, Ramblings | 1 Comment
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I'm thankful for you!

I’m thankful for you!

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?

Embracing Unknown Possibilities

May 11, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Posted in Barton's Blogs, Ramblings, The Nitty-Gritty | Leave a comment
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Do you ever find yourself in a position where you are struggling to fight off the inevitable? I found myself in this vary situation last week, as, for various reasons one of my largest and most foundational contracts was frozen for renewal. I had known this was a possibility and yet, as the news hit my ear, during last week’s meeting, I found myself in a panic, struggling to find a way to hold on. Yet, there was none.

At the beginning of this year, I remember working with my own coach to design what I would like to the next twelve months to look like. As I worked through this vision, I noticed even in January that much of my focus and intention was placed on expanding in other areas namely completing and publishing our book as well as growing my coaching practice.

Indeed, I had been waiting for an opportunity to dive off the cliff and soar into the greatness of being a full-time coach and mentor. But the truth is, there is a bottom line that we have to account for to maintain sustainability. As I absorbed the shock last week of the fact that this contract might be placed on hold for an indefinite amount of time, I found myself examining how to balance this need for sustainability with my passion and love of coaching and mentorship.

And indeed, I am still in the process, but as I hold these two aspects side by side, I notice that I have been offered an amazing opportunity to transform my professional direction, like I’ve said in my previous posts, this will not be a denial of my writing skills, but rather a more holistic embrace of them. And, by the same token, a more holistic approach of the compassion and love of coaching.

As I have begun to search for other work, I find that my skills as a writer are indeed most essential, particularly as I notice that I cannot abandon my background and success in public relations. Yet my skills as a writer need to be harnessed and utilized within an organization that carries the same passion and commitment to supporting people as I carry in my work as a coach. I suppose when I do discover this perfect match or combination of matches with multiple organizations, I hope what I will find is an environment in which my writing abilities will be put to task as a catalysis for an transformative experience for the human soul in the same way that I witness the shift in the spirit of others after a powerful coaching session.

In a conversation yesterday with the head of a local non-profit organization, I found solace of his understanding of how the use of the tools that I bring to bear need to be implemented in such a fashion.

It is not merely about building the brand and messaging of an organization, but instead cultivating and transforming the hearts of those that work for and are touched by the organization. Herein lies the foundation for building inclusive communities.

Facing the Mirror of Vulnerability

April 26, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Posted in Barton's Blogs, Ramblings, The Nitty-Gritty, Uncategorized, Work | Leave a comment
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Recently, Megan posted about the importance of courage. How, with each word, we find ourselves uncovering the vulnerability to tell the truth of who we are without hiding from it nor apologizing for it.

I find myself struck by how, as we enter again into refining our book for publication, we are continually being called to embrace great courage in our daily lives, almost as a living reflection of our editing process. Over the past several weeks this need for courage and honest vulnerability is re-emerging as a central theme in my own life. More specifically, I have been exploring how this vulnerability informs my capacity to care for my family and progress in my professional endeavors as well.

In the face of some recent transitions, and the looming possibility of having to navigate changes in contracts, this question of vulnerability has called me to reassess how I understand my personal mission of supporting others to embrace their full potential and the best means by which I can execute it. As many of you know, coaching and mentoring has been an on-going passion and over the past few years, has taken center stage in terms of the direction in which I’m headed. At the same time, this has always been backed by the security of projects in other arenas providing for our basic needs.

It is clear to me that I am most comfortable and most fulfilled working within the realm of developing others to be their absolute best be it personally, professionally, within organizations or whatever possible format may be applicable to them. I am also equally aware that as a professional myself, many of my most valuable assets also include my writing abilities, public relations, and marketing.

Understanding these two realms, both where my personal passion and ambition lies as well as understanding when others perceive the bulk of my talent causes me to carefully examine how I can interweave the two so that both aspects are utilized to the fullest without compromising either my love for personal development or my skills as a writer.

Herein lies the heart of vulnerability, as this recognition is not one-sided. Nor does it hold one aspect as being more favorable over another. It is through this honest conversation with myself that is unraveling a new framework for the next evolution of my professional and personal life.

In facing these realities fully and understanding who I am, I become less attached to having a specific ideal and rather feel more comfortable designing an integrated, and ever fluid professional life that incorporates elements of the whole range of talent, experience and passion. Indeed, this conversation requires the same courage and vulnerability that Megan and I are facing on a daily basis as we re-engage with our manuscript. And, it is through this vulnerability that we discover a fullness that we were previously unaware of, no matter our endeavor.

Risking it All- The Courage to Tell Our Story

April 23, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Posted in Ink in the Wheels: Stories to Make Love Roll, Megan's Blogs, Work | Leave a comment
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In a recent email, our editor wrote:

“I have to say that the story you are both sharing is courageous, by which I am drawing on the etymological meaning of the word. As you probably know, the word courage comes from the French word couer, meaning heart, so to have courage means to have heart or take heart. In that sense, your love story is overflowing with heart and has a tremendous amount of courage as well.”

We received edits for our manuscript a few weeks ago, and the process of revision is painstakingly slow. Barton and I sit down together with the printed version and comments, going back and forth to debate phrases and words, adding dialogue and details we missed in our first full draft.

We are thankful to have an editor so thorough, honest and light-hearted (on the same wavelength as Barton’s humor for sure). We know that her comments will make our story better, and we are frustrated only with the slow pace editing as taken.

We cringed at the thought of a full rewrite for several chapters, not because of the work now ahead of us, but because we realized we were holding back, for a very specific reason- we wanted to protect others and we wanted to protect ourselves. We knew it, our editor knew it, and if you read it in its current state, so would you. What does it take, to go to the core, the real core?

Ink in the Wheels: Stories to Make Love Roll is our story, and the amazing thing is there are pieces that even our families don’t know about. It’s not on purpose- it’s just that our lives have been so full, it’s hard to get all the different details in.

For example, when asked about our engagement, we look at each other and smile. We will tell you about my going to retrieve the book of poetry, completely missing the ring box tucked behind. But we probably won’t tell you it was 3am Thanksgiving morning. And you could probably imagine what we were actually doing at 3am Thanksgiving morning, or maybe not, in which case the book will reveal these unknown pieces. But there are also times of depression or times where we were struggling just even to connect.

Like any other couple or any other individual, we have our moments of failures and our moments of joy, times of doubt, or times of fullness and celebration. How often do we want to hide those times of failures? And how do we talk about delicate themes or dynamics in relationships (not just between Barton & I but also within our families & friends), still fragile or complex? But these are the places where we learn and grow, and so these pieces become a vital piece in the fabric of who we are.

We’re risking a lot.

We risk it all, everyday. We don’t always know what the future will bring. I can’t always tell you this particular way will work or if it will be successful. We don’t know (any of us) when sickness or tragedy will fall upon us or when we will luck has found us. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I can tell you that no matter what happens, we are together, loving and living. And this is what any person, family, community strives for.

The door is opening, and with our words, we lay down who we are at our core- quirky, loving, defiant and stubborn, funny, or sometimes fearful and angry. We bring others on our journey- and to consider their own lives, to break out of the box of self-limitation, and to see ourselves beyond what each of us believe is possible.

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