Tags: Barton Cutter, daily living, disability, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, wheelchairs
Yesterday a friend of mine forwarded me a quote from the Dalai Lama that really resonated with me in the midst of the apparent chaos throughout the week. He said:
It is not just a person’s physical constitution, their intelligence, their education, or even their social conditioning that enables them to withstand hardship. Much more significant is their inner development. And while some may be able to survive through sheer willpower, the ones who suffer the least are those who have a high degree of patience and courage in the face of adversity. ~Dalai Lama
On the one hand, there were many moments this week when I felt myself become tense because my perspective of what I thought should be happening at that moment was not what life was allowing me to do, such as when I was lying on the floor laughing and playing with the dogs when I had hoped to be working on a project for work or when I was stuck on the side of the road trying to figure out the best way to get myself home when I was under pressure to get home before a phone meeting.
On the other hand, I certainly had my share of moments when I found myself embracing the situation and playing within the moment. Moreover. During the course of the week, I found myself learning to roll with the punches to a greater extent. On Tuesday, after Megan so kindly peeled me off of the floor, my agitation around the lost work time got the better of me, and it took Megan calling me out for me to actually recognize what was going on. By the time I found myself stuck in the street with the broken-down wheelchair, I was better able to remain patient in the moment and be present to the way in which the afternoon progressed.
When I read the email from my friend, I had to laugh out loud because it became clear that while I could see some slight improvement over the course of the week, I know I still have far to go in developing both patience and courage.
Tags: daily living, disability, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, interability marriage, vision, wheelchairs, Work, writing
Before we left for Chicago, I had been working on changing the paradigm of assigning value to every-day tasks and long-terms goals. I had gotten so frustrated because I could get all of the daily tasks- things due right now completed. Yet, I wasn’t able to touch those long-term projects and goals that would lead me to where I truly want to go. So the week we left for Chicago, I began the day with one task from my long-term goal pile, and found that I actually got more done during the day because I was excited, motivated and in the flow.
Yet when we returned, I struggled to rein my email in and get back on track to complete what was currently due. I also played with how I created my to-do list realized that I needed a tangible list because there are too many things for my memory banks to hold, but I needed a better way to organize those tasks and let go of using the task-list to measure my self-worth. Have you ever had a list and written something you’ve already done so you could immediately cross it off?
Barton had an even more difficult task to let go and live into the flow of his week- his wheelchair is literally in pieces. The parts-on-order list is long- back tires, joints that the tires are attached to, front tires, battery, footrest. To make matters worse- we had to wait to clear insurance and get a “prescription” from his physician, which created more delays. The pieces of metal that allow the tire to turn correctly were completely broken leading Barton to fight his wheelchair just to turn a corner in the house, dragging everything with him including the carpet.
Tuesday evening I came home to Barton lying on the floor, out of his wheelchair with our three dogs licking his face. His frustration was clear, as his wheelchair had gotten caught on the rug, and when he looked to see how to get uncaught, he lost balance and fell out of his chair. Now, he’s taken his motor wheelchair to martial arts training and has practiced falling out of his chair, and was able to roll even with his head pointer on. But he lost valuable time on a project he was working on.
The crescendo happened on Friday when he was walking home from a meeting- the entire cover of the right wheel had come off, like a semi-truck losing rubber on the tires. His wheelchair would only go in circles, and he called me two blocks from the house, stuck. It would have been funny if it wasn’t 100-degrees outside. He had already called the wheelchair repair guys- an emergency call, partly to make a point that he wasn’t kidding, he needed those parts asap.
I was headed to Durham for a round-table discussion, but was running late due to a morning meeting, but I am so thankful I did not head out of town. I stayed with Barton while we waited for the wheelchair repairman, partly so that our neighbors would know Barton was okay (he had even had a policewoman stop & try to push his wheelchair along)!
Challenges like this can create havoc on the creative flow- how do you recover from spending half the day outside stuck in 100-degree heat, exhausted, frustrated and angry? Over the weekend, we both worked on our different projects, and it was so wonderful to be able to bounce off of each other, encourage each other to keep going, and it helped sustain the flow.
Tags: disability, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, gratitude, interability marriage, Megan Cutter
We spent the week in Chicago, IL preparing for my brother-in-law’s wedding, and as we helped tie ribbon for welcome bags and ran errands with Barton’s dad and stepmother, naturally, we began to reminisce about our own wedding, five and a half years ago.
I remember when I pulled out the Alabama football schedule, Barton thought I was nuts since neither one of us like football, but for the rest of the town, football is a religion, so for traffic and attendance, we had to know what was going on around us.
So many family members and friends were a part of our wedding ceremony, both known and unknown. We felt that it was indeed a ceremony that connected our souls together but also connected our friends and family to each other.
We were privileged to have friends who built the ramp from the alter to the aisle where Barton would walk me out of the church as a married church, very close friends who prepared the communion bread and wine and tied programs together. My stepmother and stepaunt organized a breakfast for all of the bridesmaids, and my dad put together a picture montage that included many of our family & friend communities. Barton’s family introduced me to Randolph, NH with a speech, hat and pictures.
Those who stayed hidden behind the scenes included those who swept and cleaned the student center where the reception was to be held, family members who decorated the reception area, those who cleaned afterwards and brought items back to the house. So many details that were taken care of, we did not even know about.
Before walking me up the aisle, my dad told me to remember this day, enjoy this day. I will cherish those words, and I was able to really be present during the ceremony & party afterwards, taking everything in. And while my mom was not there, I felt her presence and blessing around me.
I’ve talked before about how we made the wedding our own- Barton’s unique way of getting the ring on my finger, how we exchanged bites of cake with a kiss, and the Velcro garter that my best friend made specifically so Barton could rip it off with his teeth.
One image that I will always remember is when Barton and I were dancing. We were standing, and I had glanced over his shoulder to see one of his family members reading one of our poems, lightly touching the picture frame with tears in her eyes.
The power of the ceremony went well beyond ourselves or our marriage; it rippled out to our family and friends.
Of course there were little things- we were unprepared for how long pictures would take afterwards and shooed out of the church to greet guests. And tension that showed itself in unexpected places.
At Andrew & Lauren’s reception, Barton & I danced the night away, and I realized that I love Barton more than ever before, and recently we have been able to enjoy each other more. Challenges of life will always be there- work, finances, fires to put out, but beyond all of the mundane little things, there is a love that transcends.
Tags: daily living, disability, disability and humor, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, Megan Cutter, technology, time together
Thursday morning, Barton was all giddy about adventure getting his new I-Phone. Since most I-phones are touch phones and use heat sensitivity and finger motion to work, he assumed he couldn’t use one. However, when I needed a new phone and as a Christmas present, he picked one up for me, he found out he could use it. In fact, he spent all night reprogramming all of the sounds on my phone- if only you could have seen my reaction when Barton called me the next day!
So when the newest version came out, Barton knew he could get a deal on an older, accessible version of the I-Phone that he could use. While we needed to communicate a couple of times that day, I had to be patient as Barton was still learning his new tool. Although his did test my patient as I was accidentally hung-up on, more than once.
That evening, as I was taking a break from the heat to set up a local community Summer Music Series, Barton leaned over to me and whispered, “This is just sad.”
I looked up and realized that everyone in the place was on a technological devise. Barton was playing on his new phone & I was checking to see if I had any new email or voicemails.
Over in the corner, a family was absorbed as well- the husband on a laptop, wife on a cell phone and child on a Gameboy. There are times when communication is so important, and I could tell you I wouldn’t know what to do without laptop or mobile phone.
Barton and I communicate during the day, probably more times than most other couples. I am figuring out logistics- when & how to get him & me where we need to be. And he is working on projects and may have questions for me as well. And I admit, there are times when I just call to say, “I love you.”
On the other hand, we have to be so careful not to get so absorbed in our technology that we forget how to talk to each other in person. Over the July 4th weekend, we put down the work and technology for a while, and it was great just to spend some time enjoying each other sitting on the back porch.
When we do get back to the computer or working on projects, we feel more focused and inspired to get clicking away.
Tags: daily living, disability, disability and humor, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, interability marriage, Megan Cutter
The last few weeks, we’ve gotten some great comments from our readers, and it’s an honor and privilege to share our story with others and vice versa. As I’ve been able to converse with readers individually, I’ve realized how important it is to establish a network of those with whom you can share your experiences with (close or distant), even if they may or may not be on the same path.
There are times, especially with all of the unique quirks and challenges, of an inter-ability couple, that it’s wonderful to chat with others who are going through the same thing. We laugh at each other’s foibles and bounce off new ideas, picking each other’s brains. There are times when it’s a relief to tell stories or experiences without feeling judged.
Barton, from the time of his birth, has had to work around the judgments others made about him, his abilities and his potential. I am still working through judgments and how to handle judgments, both breaking through barriers and learning when, for my own soul-sake, walking away is necessary.
To be honest, there have been times where I have cared too much about what other people thought, and cut off even more because of harsh judgments that were made. My challenge has been to stay open to those who don’t agree with our relationship or the vision of where we are going in our lives.
At the same time, it’s been so beneficial to make connections with other inter-ability families who are successful in their relationships, business and family lives. We need success stories as points out on the horizon- we can get there too, if we keep walking, steady along the path.
In this global world where we have so many tools of communication, finding that network may not be as hard as you think. Whether it’s finding a Yahoo or Google Group, tele-conferencing, social networking sites, phone, email, or video, we can connect with the click of a button. Being connected in this way brings people together in new ways, who may never have otherwise met or connected.
Even if we don’t experience the exact same things in our lives, we can appreciate each other and support each other on our journey.
Tags: Barton Cutter, daily living, disability, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, interability marriage, vision
Last week I mentioned in my post that I had been working with a whole new understanding of what it means to take care of myself so that I can be there for others more fully. As I have been working with this, it has been very interesting to observe the dynamics between Megan and I, to notice the impact that taking care of myself or, in a lot of cases, not taking care of myself, impacts our relationship as well as Megan individually.
Like many other couples, we have a tendency to worry about one another. This concern comes up in unexpected ways that often make little sense to the other person and if both people are not fully aware of what’s going on, it can make matters worse. In our case, my attempts to alleviate her feelings of being overwhelmed as we make several life transitions, were in fact much of the source.
I believed that my sacrificing my own needs would offer her the space and the time to do what she needed to do for herself, when in fact, much of this time, was taken up by her concern over me. The manner in which this concern was expressed led me to believe that I should sacrifice more. I misinterpreted Megan’
s emotions as being more than they were, concern for me, and therefore gave up more of my power instead of claiming it. All the while, Megan was asking for me to reclaim my power and responsibilities for myself.
Since I’ve been starting to shift my behavior with regards to my own needs, the shift in our relationship has been fascinating to observe. While I know I’m still far from where I need to be, it is clear that as I have begun to take care of my physical needs, she has begun to feel both a sense of freedom and relief from making sure that I was okay. This past week alone, I noticed several distinct differences in the way we were relating to one another.
It seemed at first that there was, in some ways, a period of detoxification, she had a let down from an extended period of picking up all of the responsibilities that I had let fall by the wayside. During this period, I found myself better able to be present with her and both recognize and affirm what she had experienced, which in turn allowed her to move through this on a path to recovery.
I also noticed that as we both took better care of ourselves, we were able to refocus our energies during the times we were together and engage in projects and activities that had not been honored in a long time. Most importantly, however, I’ve noticed a very clear sense of flow that has returned to our relationship, which has felt incredibly wonderful, and I’m so very thankful to feel this again.