Don’t forget, we’ve moved to a new blog platform!! Catch all of our new blog posts here:
Just a few updates, Barton Cutter is a semin-finalist for the NMEDA National Awareness Month Contest, where three people could win an accessible van. Read our Open Letter to the NMEDA Community: National Awareness Month, where Megan shares her reflections on living and working with Barton!! And be sure to share it! We don’t know what will happen, so stay tuned!!
AND we’ll be speaking at TWO summer events- the Abilities Expo in Chicago and the Living Well with a Disability Conference in Pennsylvania. Catch us at one of our events here: http://inkinthewheels.com/scheduled-events-readings/
And we’ve received inquiries from all over the world about living, life and love with a disability once we launched Ink in the Wheels: Stories to Make Love Roll!!
Catch these recent interviews!!
~Megan and Barton Cutter
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: daily living, disability, disability and humor, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, disability and travel, interability marriage, Megan Cutter, travel, traveling with a disability
Last week, we were excited about speaking with a class at the University of Georgia. Yet, the week was full, and we found ourselves cramming in travel, meetings, work and fun. Unbelievably, we left Athens at 4:00am in the morning. Now we didn’t drive in the same way, so when we asked the manager at the front desk how to get back to the interstate to head north, we received very generalized directions.
While we weren’t exactly on empty, we were getting low, and we didn’t realize that the road he directed us to took us toward Atlanta- for oh, about 20 or 30 miles. Now in the middle of this, I began getting antsy. Did we have enough gas? Would this be taking us too far South?
Driving in the dark, on a road in which we were unfamiliar, we both began getting nervous. I got this picture of “the dark and dreary night.” We were going to run out of gas, pull over and get killed in some bizarre situation with an axe murderer.
When we finally found a lone gas station, you would have thought we had run the lottery, except with the high gas prices, it was the other way around. After all of our frustration, we looked at each other and laughed.
Barton saw this tiny sign for 85 North, so we turned onto this tiny road which led us through another 30 miles into nowhere and through little tiny towns. We sure didn’t come this way, but apparently, we were going to find our way home this way. Amazingly, we did make it home alive, and just in time for an afternoon meeting.
We have many travel stories- Barton blames our adventurous travel on me, saying that he never had issues traveling before he met me.
Since we met, we’ve been suck in an airport for three days (the airplane we were in was hit by lightning & had issues with the brakes), drove 11 hours through the same wild storm with tornados, evacuated off Hattaras Island by ferry where we were spending our 5th year anniversary- and had to drive through flooded waters to get to the ferry, and numerous occasions of lost luggage, delays and diversions.
Besides still having anxiety attacks every time I enter an airport, we’ve learned to laugh at the adventures on the road. For sure, I’ve learned to be more flexible and spontaneous. We’ll get there when we get there.
So if you find yourself on the road next to us- good luck, because you’ll probably need it!
Tags: Barton Cutter, disability, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, disability self advocacy, disabled defense, disabled protection, disabled self defense, self defense for people with disabilities, Speaking Engagements
This past week, we were given the opportunity to give the keynote presentation for West Virginia’s People First Conference. We had the pleasure of addressing 200+ people on “Staying Safe in the Community,” and what that entails for people with disabilities, their direct support and their family members. Much of our discussion focused on the importance of developing a greater awareness of one’s surroundings in order to not only recognize potential danger before something happens, but more importantly, to define one’s own safe space.
One participant described this space as a bubble around someone that is unquestionably one’s own. For many people who have disabilities and rely on the assistance of others from many daily living tasks, maintaining the space may not often be as clear-cut as others who don’t rely on the same level of support.
Because of this, it becomes all the more important that people with disabilities have a clearly defined sense of what is and is not acceptable for those around them to do. It is equally important for them to have the skills, ability and courage to be able to reinforce these boundaries when necessary.
While there are many levels to this, many of which may be considered self-advocacy skills, Megan and I had the chance to go beyond what is often covered in other type of advocacy training and address issues of personal safety and protection in direct and tangible ways. Working with smaller groups of participants in several breakout sessions, Megan and I took participants through exercises to enhance their awareness, set their own safe space and protect themselves if that space was not honored. Each person, no matter what their initial level of ability was, came away with a more defined sense of empowerment and ability to act.
It is such an incredible experience to witness the transformations that occurs in others when they are not only given the tools to empower themselves, but also have the space to explore these tools and discover their own capacity to survive and thrive in an overwhelming situation.
Tags: disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, disability self advocacy, disabled defense, disabled protection, disabled self defense, interability marriage, Megan Cutter, personal assistants, personal care assistants, self defense for people with disabilities, vision
Last year, we traveled to Jackson’s Mill, West Virginia and spoke at a People Conference, sharing our personal story and discussing creating healthy relationships for individuals with disabilities. In the session before the end of the conference, there was a talk and discussion on relating abuse to people with disabilities. Over 80% of people with disabilities will experience some kind of abuse in their lives, and more often than naught, it will be from those they know- direct support staff, families or caretakers. Many people were open about sharing personal experiences about abuse or the crossing of boundaries by others.
This year, we were excited to come back to the People First Conference and shed light on creating safety in the community and creating personal safe space. We also talked about when your safe space becomes unsafe, both the physical and emotional impact.
The next day, Barton and I taught basic awareness, empowerment and a few self-defense skills to 30 participants during the morning. We saw participants come alive, become engaged and open up to how they can apply these skills in their own lives.
Barton and I worked well together during the week, building and playing off of each other. It is a reminder to us that in addition to our individual goals and dreams, we have this work that we do together that is undeniably important. It cannot happen if it is just Barton or just myself- it is a reminder of our partnership, our marriage and our vision of reaching others.
We each bring components that others can relate to, whether it’s Barton’s experience using a wheelchair, mine as a female, or or our story of how we met and how we overcome adversity together. When we are able to come together and work in this way, incredible things happen. And others are able to see, in tangible ways, how step by step, they can do the same.
During the conference, we took a break and spent a few hours writing haiku, lying on the grass in a spacious field. While I kept feeling the tugs of many other projects I should be working on, Barton brought me back to the present moment, enjoying not only the conference itself, but also the time we spent together.
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: Blooming Lotus Coaching, disability, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, disability self advocacy, Megan Cutter, Speaking Engagements
The past few days, we’ve been at the Community Resource Alliance (CRA) Conference: In Such a Time as This…Responding Wisely in Difficult Times held in Durham, NC. It felt familiar to be working on displays, printing literature and packing a supply box for the exhibit. I hadn’t realized that it had been almost five years since I had organized a trade show display. Before moving to Raleigh and working as a contracted writer, I organized trade shows for a manufacturing company in Alabama for almost seven years.
The difference: the conference Barton showcased Blooming Lotus Coaching, his life coaching practice. I also began speaking about my transition into the connection between writing and wellness. Over the weekend, while we were working on preparations for our display, I realized how much I missed working at trade shows. I was able to use my skills to bring all the tools and materials we would need, and being able to work on something that we are so passionate about makes it even more enjoyable.
When I worked organizing corporate trade shows, leads were talked about quite a bit, first with the number of people coming into a booth, then qualifying those leads that would turn into actual sales.
What was so wonderful about being at the CRA Conference with Barton is that it did not matter how many people stopped by our table. What was more important was who stopped by our table, and the depth of the conversations we were able to have in our space. Sometimes I would repeat what Barton said, but more often than not, I didn’t need to. I had great fun seeing Barton’s excitement about this new angle to his work, and how he communicated that joy to those around him.
In addition, we spoke in a panel discussion about self-advocacy alongside several other local leaders in the community. Afterwards, I realized I had spoken more than I thought I would as I reflected on how self-advocacy has been important, not just in my work with Barton or being married to Barton, but for each of us individually as well. I have found that the more I am able to speak up about what is and isn’t working efficiently, whether it’s in our community, at work, at home, our voices can break through limitations and obstacles.
What I love about speaking on a panel are listening to the other stories that people have to tell, the experiences in their lives may be so different and so similar to my own. Each one of us has a story to tell!
Tags: Barton Cutter, disability, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, love story, Megan Cutter, Poetry, Speaking Engagements, Work, writing
This past weekend, Barton and I traveled to Atlanta, GA where I spoke at the Annual Writing and Wellness Connections Conference. I was excited to be with other writers who practiced and facilitated writing specifically for health, healing and wellness. We enjoyed a night out with family and drove back early Sunday morning just in time to help set-up for the Annual North Raleigh Author Showcase, where we facilitated the Open Mic section of the event.
We are lucky to be in an area where there are so many writing networks and events, supporting the literary community and finding an opportunity to give other writers a voice. There’s not a week that goes by where we aren’t reading at an open mic, facilitating a workshop, working on a story or attending writer’s meeting.
Barton has dipped back into writing poetry, while I enjoy writing poetry and longer non-fiction pieces as well. When we first met, Barton and I would email poetry and short stories back and forth as a part of our courting. Because of the time difference between Alabama and Arizona, I would receive e-mail with a poem in the morning and in the evening. Little did I know that Barton would spend an hour or more writing each email because he uses a head pointer, technology assistive device, to type.
Last year, we traveled to London and Scotland to attend a family wedding, Barton and I attended A MidSummer Night’s Dream at The Globe Theatre. We were right up against the stage, groundlings, and it was so incredible to see the best actors and actresses in theatre, with natural lighting, drawing the audience in. We could have reached out & touched them!
The day before, we just had a few hours to ourselves, and we literally raced up cobble streets to get to The British Library to see the original works of some of the greatest literary writers in Europe including Shakespeare’s first manuscripts, pages from Leonardo Divinci’s Notebooks, letters from Jane Austin, drawings from Galileo and Isaac Newton, Captain Cook’s Diary, the Guttenberg Bible, Dante’s Divine Comedy- the list went on and on. From Barton’s view, he was able to see printed text and designs not only from above, but from the side view, inside the pages, as well. There was no one else that could have shared the delight and joy of looking at these delicate treasures.
While we still write poems for each other, we find we are now united in bringing a voice and opportunities for others to express themselves, to tell their own stories. This November, we’ll be completing Ink In the Wheels: Stories to Make Love Roll, to be published in 2010, and we are excited to be telling our story, inspiring others to live and love.