Tags: daily living, disability, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, Megan Cutter, vision
Barton & I have always talked about living out of the box, forging our own path no matter what other people think. But the question is- how do you do this? It’s takes a little creativity, flexibility and being open to possibilities that you may not necessarily be able to see at the time.
Take this weekend for example. I had been organizing the Falls River Town Center Spring Fling, and Saturday, Barton and I spent working a fourteen-hour day at the event. Barton promised me a Margarita after a successful event and wanted to take me over to Bahama Breeze, a couple of miles from our house. Since there were still three bars left on Barton’s wheelchair battery gauge, he thought he had enough battery to make it there & home (you know where this is going, don’t you?).
So I climbed up to sit in Barton’s lap (his new wheelchair reclines), and off we went. As we went along, Barton’s wheelchair started to slow down a little bit. About three-forth of the ways there, the bars diminished and the speed dramatically declined. I jumped off and walked beside him, which helped a little, but not for long. It was the first time Barton had run his new wheelchair on empty. We arrived at Bahama Breeze with the last bar blinking.
As we waited to be seated, a good hour since it was prom night for several high schools, we talked through different options. What were we going to do? How do we get home? Barton struggled not to feel guilty since it had been such a long day. We called the two cab companies with accessible vans, but no one answered. So I mouthed to Barton across the patio, “We could just go to the hotel.” What I meant was, we could go to the hotel & continue to call or figure it out from there. What Barton heard was, we could just stay at the hotel overnight.
We could have gotten all grumped out about it, especially since we hadn’t figured out how we were getting home. Instead, we laughed, resigned that it would work out one way or another. A while later Barton brought it back up, we could just stay overnight at the hotel, and I realized what he meant. This solution immediately relieved our fears and brought us both back into the present. I didn’t have to worry about walking home blurry-eyed on a late Saturday night. We did end up calling our incredibly gracious neighbor so we could get the battery charger. While we did end up spending a little extra money for the night, we had a delightful meal, several drinks, and a night away from home with no phone, computer or other distractions. Sunday, we walked home, rested & ready for the day.
So how did we get to this place of creative problem solving? Working together, letting go of expectations and being open to the possibilities certainly helped. Creating a plan is great, knowing when to break out of the plan and going with the flow is even more important.
Our mentor Phil Okrend recently shared with us a great quote that Robert Kennedy used from George Bernard Shaw, “Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.”
Tags: daily living, disability, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, household chores, Megan Cutter
We’ve gotten several questions on how we’ve managed during this economically difficult time, what challenges we’ve faced and what changes we’ve had to make. Barton and I are lucky in that we own our own business, and our overhead costs are very little, and fact, we’ve seen a growth in our business exponentially.
Our biggest challenge by far: medical costs. Both Barton and I have had some major medical expenses- Barton just got his brand new wheelchair and his refill for an intrethecal Baclofin pump isn’t cheap, and I had a mole removed by my dermatologist. While we both have health insurance, we do have very high deductibles, so our challenge is to make enough to cover our medical costs.
Barton’s help quit last July, so since that time, I’ve taken over the morning routine. Now, I don’t really mind it (because it gives me more time with Barton) except for a couple of things- morning is my best writing time, so I’ve had to adjust my work schedule, and I do have to watch my energy level to make sure I’m getting enough sleep to wake up in time to get us both ready for the day, which can be quite early. It’s important for both Barton and I that the roles between wife and caretaker are different, so eventually we’ll get back to morning help, but for the time being, we can’t justify that expense.
Like everyone else, we’ve been eating out less; I’m definitely on the search for new crock-pot recipes. We’ve also been watching our mileage. We’ve been used to driving long distances, and the last year we’ve really cut back on driving. One benefit of this transition has been to know and use the local resources in our community. For Barton- it’s really important that he figures out our neighbors who can help him out if I’m not around. While we have many friends a ways off, it’s been important on so many different levels to make connections and get to know our neighbors in our own community.
When we were looking at celebrating our fifth-year anniversary this November, we originally had planned to go back down to Longboat Key, Florida where we spent our honeymoon, but we realized that the transportation cost by air & car, food & hotel- just wasn’t worth it. Don’t worry, we’re still celebrating- a rental house on the Outerbanks where we can take our dogs with us, make our own meals & enjoy a glass of wine overlooking the ocean will suit us just fine (and I’m sure we’ll splurge with at least one night out).
So while we have made some drastic changes, we are creating more opportunities, looking at the infinite possibilities of each day, remaining positive (turn the tv off if you haven’t already!) and thankful that we have each other.
Tags: disability, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, love story, Megan Cutter, vision
Writer’s never write their stories in order. I’ve told this story three times in the last several days to friends, so it seems relevant that I go ahead & post it. We have several new projects on the horizon, and we’re a bit excited, a bit nervous. How will it end? As they say, it’s a mystery!
For over seven years, I organized trade shows for a manufacturing company in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I remember the day- Wednesday, August 17, 2005. I picked up the phone at work. Barton was breathless- we’re moving. Okay, I said on the phone. It was true that we were planning to move in October.
Barton whispers- September 1st. The apartment complex called. There’s an ADA apartment opening on September 1st. I couldn’t say no. I nodded, okay- wait, September 1st. I remember hanging up the phone and trying to wrap my head around what Barton just told me. We’re moving- in two weeks- to North Carolina.
After six months of living in Tuscaloosa, it was clear that the town was not accessible friendly. Barton couldn’t even get on the bus much less walk down the sidewalk-less street. He was also having difficulty breaking through the old Southern stereotypes of people with disabilities as he searched for sustainable work. While I was at full-time job, Barton was researching different options that would be better for us. When I spoke of moving to my family, they were greatly concerned- where would we go, what about health insurance, did we have enough money, what about work? How would we manage? Yet, I knew I had to trust Barton- as much as we loved our friends, Tuscaloosa just wasn’t working.Because the lines crossed between neighborhood and work (Tuscaloosa is a small town), we realized how quickly word could spread between friends who were associated with those at work. Since Barton and I relied on my company’s health insurance plan, we had to be careful that the timing was just right. I went to great lengths to avoid the rumblings about our move.
As Katrina roared across Tuscaloosa in the middle of the night on my birthday, I huddled with Barton- we slept with our clothes and boots on, just in case we needed to be on the move. I remember thinking- just don’t let a tree fall on our house so we can still sell it. We were lucky in that our neighborhood sustained minimal wind damage.
I went to my manager’s office three days later on September 1- I remember my hands shaking as they held the folder with resignation letters. Was I actually doing this? I had been working there for seven years. Yes, I was.
Barton left for North Carolina that Friday, and since we were selling my mother’s house, I stayed behind to go through another round of packing and house repairs for preparation to put it on the market.After three weeks of minimal sleep working on the to-do list that literally wrapped around the page, I joined Barton in our new apartment in Raleigh. It was done & I could rest now. As stressful as the move was, it was the best decision that we could have made for our family.
In the first six-months of living in Raleigh, Barton had clocked over 1,000 miles on his wheelchair (compared to the 50 in Tuscaloosa). And while each day brings new opportunities and new challenges, we have many more options that make life- a mystery!
Tags: Barton Cutter, daily living, disability, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, gratitude
Tonight on this gorgeous spring evening, I’m going to take a break from our promised agenda of telling how we met and write about how thankful I am. Today has been magnificent in every way. Relaxing on the back porch writing, reading, meditating, playing with the dogs and spending time with my love. I am purely grateful for this time when so many are frantic and unsure. Moments of peace become even more precious, as is the ability to recognize these moments.
For the past week, I have been making time to stand again. Both my body and spirit have embraced this eagerly. I feel stronger and more enlivened from the exercise, and today, I took a few steps again. Megan said they were among the best steps she has ever seen me take. I’m not sure why, maybe it was just the right time for me to work on it again. Perhaps it was the beauty of the day. Either way, it felt wonderful.
The graying sky, cloudless at dust, is another gift for which I am grateful, sitting here beneath it writing face to face with Megan. This is a wonderful life, and I am grateful for every moment.
Tags: daily living, disability, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, gratitude, Megan Cutter
To be honest, this week has kicked my butt, staying up late to finish projects, days full of meetings and not wanting to get out of bed to get Barton up in the morning (at the moment we don’t have morning help).
Last night, we had a wonderful time in downtown Raleigh, appetizers from a gift certificate we received, wine and chocolate tasting and stopping by our friend’s art gallery opening (Elise Okrend). We haven’t had a “date night” in a while, and it was wonderful to leave the work behind and just be with each other.
Today, we played on the back porch all day. Amazingly, I did not crack my computer open until tonight, and made only one phone call. I walked the dogs as the sun rose, wrote in my journal, drew with pastels in my sketchbook and listened while Barton read his newly finished poem aloud.
Days like today bring me back to center, a place of gratitude for where I am, who I am with and the work we are accomplishing together. After such a difficult week, this day of relaxation couldn’t have come at a better time.
Tags: disability, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, love, love story, Megan Cutter
That May, I headed back to Tucson for a longer, weeklong seminar. When I arrived, I walked into the kitchen to help wash dishes for dinner. Barton was drying dishes, and I was talking to him, in my slow southern accent, taking the plates he had dried and dried them with my own towel.
Finally one of my friends stepped outside and asked, “Do you have a problem with Barton? He’s trained much as much as any other man, so don’t patronize him.” It didn’t take long for me to shift out of that patronizing perspective nor to see how independent Barton is.
Early one morning, we were sweeping off the walkways. Barton banged the broom around as we struck up a conversation. That was where I learned Barton wrote poetry and we both had similar family experiences. “I would love to read some of your poetry, “ I remember saying. That night, I walked down to the fire and saw Barton on the other side of the firelight, his bright eyes beaming. In the quiet moment of the firelight, I was reflective and though we spoke briefly before being joined by others, it was if we had been talking for ages.
When everyone was packing to go home the next day, one of my friends ran up to me, “Barton’s leaving! He wants to say good-bye.” By the time I got to the car, Barton was already in the backseat. I wrote my contact info on a piece of paper and jumped into the backseat onto his lap sticking it in his pocket with a kiss on the cheek. I still wasn’t fully aware that I was in love, but my heart sure was. I never expected to receive an email when I turned my computer on as soon as I returned home.
Now we’re getting somewhere…
Tags: Barton Cutter, disability, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, love, love story
To be honest, there was part of me that never expected to see her again, and yet somehow it was only natural that we did. When we met again, it was at a longer seminar, and somehow I got lucky enough to spend the better part of an entire week with her. Honestly I don’t remember the exact point I fell in love. All I remember is the more time we spent together, the more I knew she was the one. By this point, however, I was definitely noticing how incredibly gorgeous she was, and everything about her absolutely floored me.
There was one morning, she ended up helping me eat breakfast and about five minutes into the meal, I noticed she had not taken one bite of her own food. As she was about to give me the next bite of granola and yogurt, I looked at her quizzically and said, “You know you need to eat, too.” She promised she would, but that wasn’t good enough for me, so I gave her a look. And she sighed somewhat resigned as finally began to eat also. As we ate together, I found myself remembering what astonished me so much about her eyes several months prior. She was so warm despite her apparent shyness.
The more we talked, the more it felt like we were to halves of the same whole. When I learned she was a writer, I knew there was no possible way I was going to let her get away without doing everything I could to be with her. That day when we were sweeping the sidewalk, I remember thinking, I had spent my entire life waiting to meet someone who just might fall in love with my poetry, and I was hopeful that she was the one.
After that conversation, there was no hope for me. I was head over heels, and I’m pretty sure she had no clue. On the second to last day, we both became really busy, and didn’t have an opportunity to spend much time together during the remainder of that seminar.
I remember getting ready to leave and about two hours before getting in the car, I had started to look for her as I was determined not to leave without her phone number or email. I had my other friends looking all over for her, but none of them could track her down. I finally got in the car to go, and I gave my friends one last plea to go and try to find her. Fortunately, they did and when Megan got to the car, she climbed in he backseat and sat on my lap. She tucked her information into my front pocket along with a small piece of turquoise, gave me a kiss on the cheek and walked back inside. I was absolutely going out of my mind. I don’t know if she knew what she had done to me, but I was about to have a heart attack. I could not wait to talk to her again.