Tags: Barton Cutter, daily living, disability, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, dog stories, dogs, Megan Cutter
Last Tuesday, we were out for a morning walk with Bear & Basho, our two Labs. We were mostly through our walk when a tiny brown puppy came running up to Bear and Basho. There was no collar, and it was clear he had just been neutered. As he played with our boys, we noticed that both Bear & Basho were unusually calm around him. As Megan took a few minutes to inspect him, Barton looked around trying to find an obvious hole in the fences of some nearby houses from which he could have escaped.
We decided we couldn’t leave it him since he was such a young puppy, and Megan carried him back home. She took pictures to make fliers and took him to our vet to see if he had been micro-chipped.
That afternoon, we went back on Craig’s list and found his listing. Megan called right away- it turns out that Scout is a Sheppard/Terrier mix who was staying with a foster family, and was looking for a permanent home. Megan called Barton to let him know that the woman was coming to get him that afternoon, and that she had had a long talk with her about Scout. When Scout first appeared, it was clear to both of us that he was drawn to our pack. That afternoon when the woman came to get him, he simply sat down beside Barton’s wheelchair and refused to move. A new dog- are we crazy??
When Megan got home that day, we talked about what another dog would be like and decided to at last try it out. On Saturday, Scout came to stay with us a few days, and though the final paperwork isn’t done, he has found himself a home. Bear was a bit upset the first day, but has since relaxed. They have played together quite well until they all crash out for a nap. We were amazed at how well they got along, after establishing the pack of course. We couldn’t believe his personality because he has been so relaxed around our two rambunctious labs and in turn Bear & Basho have been laid back as well.
We hope to get everything squared away and are excited to have a new pup in the pack.
Tags: Barton Cutter, disability, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, Poetry, Speaking Engagements, vision, writing
It’s not often that you get to spend an evening listening to your favorite poet with the one you love. As Megan mentioned, we had the opportunity to listen to David Whyte speak at the Poetry & Medicine Conference last weekend in Durham. He was phenomenal! The way he presents poetry for both his own & others brings anyone listening into an immediate state of presence and contemplation. He is also able to draw out the big questions and use these questions as a mirror for the audience or the reader to examine themselves.
This is interesting to me, both as a poet and as a coach. I’ve always used images, situations, and events to frame and drive my poetry. The result of which is typically visually rich, yet while it may be introspective for me as the author, these poems rarely challenge the reader to delve into themselves and explore what is true for them. Ironically, my work as a coach is the exact opposite in that I abandon all attempts to explore my personal makeup to focus solely on my client in their journey toward deeper growth and understanding.
In having the opportunity to speak with David after his keynote, I asked him when he first began using powerful questions as a means to enter a poem. He pointed out to me that questions are a natural aspect of observance and the life of a poet is driven by observation and curiosity. It crossed my mind then that perhaps my poems are simply driven by different questions and rather than simply bring forth my own discovery in the poem, my new challenge is to call the reader forth into the greatness of the question for themselves as well.
Tags: disability, disability and humor, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, Megan Cutter, Speaking Engagements, vision, writing
Last Friday night, Barton and I heard poet David Whyte, keynote speaker for Lifelines: Poetry for Our Patients, Our Communities, Ourselves Conference at Duke Medical Center. And of course, knowing us, it was not without adventure. As part of the OLR Roundtable Discussion Group, I had gone earlier in the morning to hear David Whyte speak to medical students in grand rounds at Duke Medical Center. Within an hour, I was literally transformed as I listened to David Whyte’s words.
Knowing that Barton would be at another conference in downtown Raleigh, and not expecting him to make the Friday evening talk, I asked David to sign a poem I had printed out (of course Barton has all his books on Audiobooks, and to be honest, we did not have one hardcopy).
After the morning talk, I had some time to myself and ended up at Duke Gardens, camera in hand. I found an off-beaten trail that lead to a quiet stream. Behind some rocks, I noticed a duck and her chicks swimming in a small pool, and sat on a rock at the edge. I was mesmerized by the fledglings, dipping their tiny heads just under the surface, the clacking of their small bills along the reeds at the edge of the pond, and their mother’s awareness as other strangers walked by. Eventually one chick scrambled out of the pond, and the mom totted the other two under her breast.
In that instant, and probably even before this moment, I realized I could not hear David Whyte without Barton. I just couldn’t. Period. I left the conference early, racing back to Raleigh in hopes to meet Barton. Now along the way, I tried to call him as Barton was on the buses back home (the buses cannot be relied on for any timely thing). Not only that, but most of the time, I have a 95% recall for Barton’s speech, which dramatically reduces down to 10% or less if we are both on cell phones and I am in the car. I won’t tell you how fast I was driving, and all I could think was I had to make it home before the 5pm Friday traffic began.
A divine moment- we arrived home at exactly the same time. Ten minutes and we were back out the door on the way. We were going to make it- together.
Inspiration isn’t just about a person, a place or event, it is about our interaction with it, and David Whyte mentions this interaction as a conversation. There is the conversation and interaction with our relationships, work and ourselves.
There was no one else I had wanted to share this experience with, in the particular place, at this particular time. And when it all came together, alchemy ensued.
Sitting there next to Barton, we are both blown away by the meditative poems, powerful words, funny stories and thought-provoking messages. These were things we needed to hear- right now, at this particular time. One passage that stuck in my mind was “Start close in. Don’t take the second step or the third, start with the first thing close in, the step you don’t want to take…” How meaningful as both Barton and I are embarking on potential new work, individually and together.
Afterwards, Barton asked him about powerful questions, which makes so much sense, but I had never thought of the direct connection. This was especially important to Barton as he begins his coaching work, of which powerful questions are essential to assist a person engaging in conversation with their lives.
The rest of the conference was powerful as well with a powerful discussion among a few writers, presentations by many incredible writers in the field, talk and reading with Jane Hirshfield accompanied by a symphony of thunder and lighting, Open Mic reading which lasted long into the evening, and Master Class with Jane Hirshfield where she talked about her revision process and work-shopped selected poems. There was much to take from the conference and look at integrating into my own writing, work and life. What an inspiring weekend!
Tags: disability, disability and humor, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, gratitude, interability marriage, Megan Cutter, vision, Work, writing
Recently, Barton has been reading Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink, which dispels illusions about motivation. Research has found that motivators such as money or the use of positive rewards actually hinder performance. Why? People work best and are actually more creative, inventive and advance further when there is an underlying passion or belief about the work.
The past few weeks, we’ve had discussions about motivation in our own lives and these discussions have caused me to take a long look at what I was taught about motivation and how I can begin to shift these patterns to create more authentic patterns in the drive behind my work and my life.
One of the patterns I realized I was living into is the “if…then…” philosophy. If I can accomplish this, then I can do that. If I can finish this project, then I can work on my manuscript. If we had this much money, then I could do that. And it goes on and on. The underlying issue is the belief that at the end of the day, I have to accomplish a list of realistic, tangible goals that meet objective- but whose objectives and what do they really have to do with my values?
As a child, often our motivation is to please our parents, and this was certainly true in my case. Further impressed by switching houses between divorced parents so frequently, it was much later in my childhood development when I found a sense of independence. When I graduated from college, I had expecting to be married right away, and when that didn’t happen the way I thought, I found myself clinging to a 8-5 job, pushing away the creativity that had sustained me throughout my youth. It wasn’t until after my mother passed away that I truly began to ask myself about what was the vision in my work and personal life.
The last year, I have found that the more I live into my creativity and value it as a precious gift that is meant to open the space for others to find their own voice, the more authentic I am both in my work and in my life. Over and over I had denied this creative aspect of myself for the approval of family or mentors or those around me. This illusion reeked havoc on the belief in my own goals, talents and visions.
As Barton and I move forward both independently and collaboratively on new projects and goals, we are also shifting the motivators in our lives. Yes, we need to pay the bills to sustain our family, but the primary motivation has to be something deeper than that. We are finding a new passion in our work.
For Mother’s Day, I spent the afternoon with Barton painting, something I had not given myself permission to do in a long time, and last night, Barton wrote an exquisite poem that blew me away. He had to give himself permission to write, apart from other work projects. Just as I must give myself permission to work on creative projects in tandem with projects that support our family.
It’s not easy to shift these patterns, but it’s slowing me down, helping me to take a look at the fundamental values in my life, respecting my talents and vision or mission and opening up the possibilities in entirely new ways.
The last few weeks have seemed like a whirlwind. In the same week, Barton and I found out that we both had contracts that would be transitioning or phasing out, we left for Chicago, full day drives each way, and when I returned, I went straight into organizing a community Spring Festival for a local town center. The next day, I worked on four articles, due just a few days later. My challenge was certainly going from one big project to another without getting burnt out, but also the balance between the present and future. With so many immediate projects to work on, it has been nearly impossible to brainstorm or work on the opportunities or possibilities for future projects.
In the wake of looking at how our budgets will be affected, we also had to make some transitions with our own support systems. We cut back on Barton’s morning help and delayed working with our own coach for a few months. Making these cuts is always tough, because we know that the dynamics between us will also be affected, and I will be doing more, something we have always tried to reduce.
Barton went on go-mode, working on sending out proposals, while I struggled to wade through the projects already in the works. For several weeks, we had set hour-meetings with each other for brainstorming sessions and to look at ways we could combine coaching and writing. However, once I got into working on projects that were currently due and Barton took off into go-mode, we left our meeting times behind. It wasn’t until Barton came home one night sucked into work mode that I realized how we had left some parts of our mission together behind.
This weekend was our first weekend at home without a huge project due, and it was wonderful. Who knew that washing the car together would be so relaxing and fun, although I had the upper hand since I relentlessly sprayed Barton with the water hose. While we did work on home projects, we also took needed rest time and an evening out for fun. Barton knew that Sunday would be a bit sad for me, as I mentioned I had wanted to spend the afternoon painting in honor of my mom, and it was a joy when he asked if he could join me. We have a renewed sense of mission as a family, and began to set full days aside to work on brainstorming each of our goals as well as work we can do as a couple.
Both of us find a sense of excitement for the possibilities we aren’t even aware of yet, and trust that even in the wave of transitions, we will be lead to places of creative transformations and service.
Tags: Barton Cutter, disability, disability and humor, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, vision, Work
This past week has been quite a learning experience for me. I have been focusing quite a bit on finding new projects for myself that have been full of excitement and possibility, but in doing so, there have been ways in which I have neglected our mission and work as a couple.
As both Megan and I are transitioning in the realms of work, it has been very easy for me to feel as though it is solely my responsibility to take on the task of finding contracts that will take us where we need to be financially. There have been so many opportunities and avenues that have been opening up for me in coaching that it has served to confirm that this new line of work is truly where I am meant to be. Yet, it is only half of our mission and purpose as a couple.
Megan has been absolutely incredible in supporting me through this new territory, and I want to thank her for this. The other evening, I returned home from training excited that I got home before her, and went straight to work believing that there would be time to check email before she got home. I got involved in writing someone at the same time she arrived and was unable to give her the support she needed at that moment. What came out was very interesting- I learned from her that I was not supporting her as well as I had originally thought. While it is vital that I continue to move forward into this new area, it is just as vital that I hold our vision for our work as a couple just as holy.
Prior to my recent effort to spearhead a new contract, we had been exploring ways in which her work in writing and wellness and my coaching could be paired to offer people greater opportunities to transform aspects of their own lives. In shifting my perspective back to one that is more balanced between my personal mission and the mission of us as a family, the possibilities become even greater. This excites me, and I notice that as I step into this, it only adds to the potential to serve others, as they need to be served. While it was difficult in the moment to hear the areas I was not honoring, I am grateful that it was brought to my attention so that we can move forward in a more holistic manner.
Tags: disability, disability and humor, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, disability self advocacy, Megan Cutter, Work, writing
As Barton and I have been transitioning into new work and looking for new projects, we’ve put our feelers out there, see what sticks, and what avenues are open. Not that long ago, Barton made contact with a company who uses subcontractor writers, which sparked our interest as they worked for non-profit organizations and were looking to expand their client base to include disability and diversity markets. What a perfect fit.
How odd I found it the day when I received a phone call, a woman who wanted to write a story about us, from this organization. At first, I was very confused because Barton was expecting a call from another woman to set up a test project. Was this the same person? Clearly it was not. Instead, I found myself talking to this the woman on the other end of the phone about a story she wanted to write about us. But it was the wrong story.
Several years ago, Barton worked for a disability provider but clearly the story that she wanted to hear was that Barton used the provider’s services and started our business as a result of the provider’s involvement. As many times as I told her Barton worked for the organization, not the other way around, she could not comprehend it. She praised our work and our story of success, and wanted to feature our story if we could promote the provider as well.
I am sure my hesitant attitude impeded the conversation as my agitation was as clear as her inability to comprehend that much our success had to do with hard earned sweat and tears, breaking down many barriers, many supporters, by-passing the system and frankly working our butts off.
As we’ve seen success in our lives, especially as an inter-ability couple, the potential for others to use our story for their own benefit is out there. There’s a difference between celebrating success of yourself or others (exposure) and using someone’s success by jading the story for your own interest (exploitation). This isn’t the first time this has happened. It’s a fine line, and in this case, I was incredibly disappointed, upset, and to a degree heartbroken because I really want to work with them.
Barton hasn’t heard back from this organization, and we do hope that there is a chance to work with them to provide an opportunity to transform this perception.