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.

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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.

Refining the Harmony in Our Souls

March 28, 2012 at 9:59 pm | Posted in Barton's Blogs, Ramblings, The Nitty-Gritty, Work | Leave a comment
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Do you ever find yourself in awe of the cyclical nature of life and how, whether we like it or not, we seem to be carried from peak to valley and back to peak to re-examine our patterns and behaviors? It’s times like these where we often find ourselves experiencing a strong sense of déjà vu, almost as though the universe is pointing you toward certain elements in your life for some inexplicable reason.

The past few months have certainly been one of these times for both Megan & I, where the unnecessary seems to be falling away making room for new and greater potential.

For me, this letting go requires a great deal of trust as the face of one aspect of work transforms to encompass new and perhaps less concrete delineations. And yet, in the same pulse of letting go, another entirely unforeseen opportunity may emerge to carry us closer to our vision for working with other families. Certainly I have witnessed this occurring for Megan on almost a daily basis as opportunity after opportunity arises.

The driving question behind helping us decide the most appropriate course of action has transformed from which is in line with our personal vision and which is not to which of these opportunities resonates most closely with the ultimate fullness of our goals.

We both see multiple opportunities arising at the same time, and all of them are somehow aligned with our vision. Yet, like the master musician striking the middle C, it is up to us to distinguish the notes that resonate most harmoniously with the depths of our soul. No longer is the major third, fifth or seventh sufficient. Only the pure resonance of the full interval of an octave crisp enough for us to now take action.

The Importance of Our Own Voice

February 29, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Posted in Megan's Blogs, The Nitty-Gritty, Work | Leave a comment
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Each of us has our own distinct voice.

Each of us has our own distinct voice.

While we were out and about this weekend, someone came up to Barton to compliment him on articles in our local newspaper, but then mentioned that it was great that we write them together, implying that I wrote Barton’s articles for/with him. While I’m sure this person didn’t mean to offend, Barton took it as somewhat of an insult, because there was an implication that he wasn’t capable of doing it on his own.

So let’s dispel some myths right away: I am not allowed to touch anything that Barton writes, and if I am transcribing and miss a word, I put brackets around it so Barton can go back to edit what he meant later. In fact, I am not allowed to touch anything we write until the editing phase. It’s really important to me that when our book comes out, that others know Barton’s sections are his own writing.

Digging a bit deeper below this particular misconception can hit on an even more profound concept for those with and without disabilities. My work as a writer and coach for others- adults and young adults alike, is to provide the avenue for each person to find their own voice, whatever that voice may sound or feel like.

It’s easy to dismiss the communicative arts. I’ll get comments like, “My daughter can’t write.” Creative expression may be in a look of the eye, a cry or sound, a green scribble or a body movement. We can build these relationships and communications over time. Who am I or you to say what it should look like? One of my best successes is one of my students who told me there were no adjectives to describe love. We can build goals around learning our own voice or expression, to tell someone how we feel for example or to navigate within our community.

Recently, an episode of Switched at Birth looked at the determination and challenges of a young man learning to speak with a hearing impairment. In many ways, his learning to speak verbally was a direct reflection of his identity, wanting to relate, be a part of and connect within a hearing world.

When do you feel like you may not have a voice? It could be during a discussion of a particular issue, wanting to keep a job, in the midst of a health crisis or illness. It could be when you feel that no one else could possibly understand where you are. There are many times throughout our lives when we feel like we don’t have a voice.

For me, it was when, as a child, I would write stories under the covers of my bed or hide notebooks in my school locker because family, teachers or professionals thought my writing stories was somehow interfering with other aspects of my life. Years later I was still questioning if I had all of my childhood notebooks, still trying to claim my voice.

The vitality of owning our own sounds, words, non-verbal communication, language is an essential piece of who we are. Claim it, own it and value others who have their own voice, no matter how it may manifest itself.

Recovering the Words

February 22, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Posted in Barton's Blogs, Ramblings, Work | Leave a comment
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Since Megan and I completed our manuscript and sent it to our editor nearly a month and a half ago, I have found myself wanting to pause from writing in nearly all its forms and revel in the accomplishment of having a complete manuscript in hand. What has been interesting for me over this last month is not that the desire to write has been absent, but rather I have wanted to find a subject more profound than what I can come up with at any given moment.

It’s almost as if the faculty of my imagination needs a pause for somewhat of a recovery. Almost as though, like a physical muscle just completing a triathlon at some levels, it still begs for the adrenaline and the excitement of the exercise itself, yet on the other hand is totally exhausted and needs to recover in order to grow stronger and express itself once more, yet more fully than before.

These words I write now are the first glimpse of the recovery for that aspect of my creativity, pausing to reflect on a subject worth my time, I am immediately captured by these words and am carried off down the river of what may or may not become a revelation of true artistic talent.

Despite this unknowing, I am somehow entrusted to my own capacity for meaningful writing more completely than before, and it thrills me to know that the longer I rest and trust in the freely developing inspirations, the words begin to flow once again as the time arises. In the meanwhile, Megan and I are still diligently working on other aspects of our book publication.

While perhaps not as creative as the initial drafting, I have found that as we move into these areas, they carry with them the same excitement and hope of fulfillment as the original work did for me. It’s a thrill to know that by the autumn, we will indeed have a book in hand and be able to embark on an adventure of promoting it and speaking in such a way that will serve all those who have the opportunity to listen, share and engage with us.

The Blessings of Breaking It Down

February 10, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Posted in Megan's Blogs, Ramblings, Work | Leave a comment
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Ink in the Wheels

Inspiration for Ink in the Wheels: Stories to Make Love Roll Cover Design

I knew I was getting a cold when my throat began burning and even though I tried to gargle with salt water, it wouldn’t go away. Yet, this deviated from the normal pattern I was used to. Instead of having a sore throat for a day and then moving on, I lost my voice for five days sounding more like the wicked witch of the west- “I’m melting.”

We walked into one of the classes I teach with a sign on the white board- “I lost my voice, but don’t worry, we have a plan.” Barton was great, facilitating and moving my class forward, and still I found it difficult to keep my mouth shut. So the past few weeks, we have been bouncing projects and events back and forth, resting and yet filled with the excitement of moving forward on new opportunities.

As I’ve come back from not having a voice, I’ve had to break my day down a little bit more- vital daily deadlines, vision- the book and writing, sustainability (because yes, over the holidays one of my contracts was cut and I am looking for new work) and taking time to do one thing a day to make sure I stay healthy- and that Barton & I stay on track. And we’ve had to be flexible and go with the flow a little bit more.

We are well into our Kickstarter Campaign to defray production costs of our memoir, and we have just been awed at the support from those around us- not just financial support but thoughts, calls, notes and emails that were sent that just had us both in tears. It’s one thing to believe you have an impact, it’s another to be shown what that impact is, and both of us had to take some time to process what we do with this, especially at the profound level we experienced. And our answer is- to keep on doing what we’re doing.

Wednesday we drove down to Greensboro to drop off pictures and samples to the designer for the cover & back cover of the book, we’ve had several meetings to reach schools and parents in new ways, and we’re attending some events where we hope to make an impact. I’ve seen Barton’s delight in talking with a potential new coaching client, and I’ve experienced the love of teaching and working with youth and adults.

And for that, beyond all other challenges we may face, we are blessed.

The Fun in Going For It, Our Dreams That Is

January 24, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Posted in Megan's Blogs, Our Love Story, Ramblings, Work | 1 Comment
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Yesterday, we spent the afternoon with our beat-up flip camera filming a clip for our Kickstarter Project. Kickstarter is a way to connect funders with projects, and videos bring the story to life. It’s your chance to pitch your story, and communicate what you need. Don’t worry- you’ll hear more about our project in February, when it goes live.

We had a few hours in the afternoon, and we were determined to get out a version we could use. Mind you, we had spent the weekend writing a script, pieces Barton could say, and others I could, overlapping our voices and message together. So, we began by pulling out the script, and Barton had the bright idea of posting it somewhere for us to look at.

Yet, when we began arranging things in our studio, there was no way to post our script without being obvious. So we threw out that idea. Instead, we figured we would just tape as many versions we could and pick out the one we liked the best. Yes, we each had pieces we would say, but we would also jumped if we needed to. And then I got worried about screwing up our quote at the beginning, so Barton started us off right.

The result was a fun afternoon of improv and fits of laughter. Yes, I’m not sure which one of us got the giggles first, but every take after that was cut short; Barton even had me laughing so hard he brought tears to my eyes. When we were done, we were both exhausted, but we had great fun, and hopefully, accomplished what we needed for the project.

So much for being “serious” in front of a camera- but you know, we are who we are!

View our video here!

Writing Through the New Year

January 4, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Posted in Megan's Blogs, Our Love Story, Ramblings, The Nitty-Gritty, Work | Leave a comment
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Over the holidays, a contract is diminishing for me and we finished a draft of our book, all within two weeks of each other. The glass half empty, the glass half full. At the moment, I’ve been sitting in the middle of the unknown- we don’t know what will happen as I am reworking one of my primary contracts, which we know will be cut in half or more, and at the same time sensing the elation of a project in the midst of manifestation after so long of talking and dreaming- it’s been quite a holiday.

Along the way, Barton has been amazing- offering the support to go with the flow, with the genuine and true belief that no matter what happens, we will be okay. And truly, there are many exciting and new possibilities at the cusp of fruition this year. Since our focus for the book has become clear with Barton’s excitement almost surpassing my own, the contagiousness of our energy has bounced off each other to create a momentum that I have not experienced before.

For me, it’s been vital to focus on our manuscript in this time of unknowing, and trust me, there has been much to do. Barton found that he could write much more material by using the Voice Memo App on his I-Phone and could record about a 7-minute piece to then email to me for transcription. I would sit down at my computer, open my in-box to find a string of 5-10 voice memos to transcribe. Since October, Barton has written, and I have transcribed, over 100 voice memos. Wow!

One by one, I would transcribe, typing about the same pace as Barton’s speaking rate, which worked perfectly. I created my own system, putting brackets around words that I could not make out, and leaving spaces between each section since the order I received them in was not necessarily the order that Barton intended.

I would also have pieces of material I was working on, and found myself as I normally do, writing at four or five in the morning to candlelight, and then later in the morning or evening transcribing Barton’s work, finally to put them together as overlapping voices for our story.

We were so determined to make our own deadline to send our draft to our editor that we worked through the winter holidays. In fact, New Years Eve, we were so exhausted we were asleep before any New Year’s celebrations began.

Yet, what a blessing to start the year of with a project that we believe in, have a clear vision for and hope that others will find what they need in their own lives. And so, for all of your inquiring minds- the first draft is done, yet there is much to do for publication this fall. We’ll keep you posted for pre-orders!!

Another Leap- Hand in Hand

July 22, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Posted in Megan's Blogs, Work | Leave a comment
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Savoring moments of vision.

Savoring moments of vision.

On the way back from Tuscaloosa, Barton and I talked about a number of projects we needed to work on over the summer. He brought up changing the name to our business (again), as our passions and vision have changed since we moved to Raleigh.

My first response was to resist, as hard as I could- but I’m going to lose the clients I have, but I am a writer, but I like Cutter’s Word, but I don’t want to change, but, but, but…

And yet- I knew he was right. But…

We debated for weeks about when to make the change. I just wasn’t ready yet. This process was asking me to claim parts of myself that I didn’t truly believe I was ready to show.

On the second trip to Tuscaloosa, I made the drive without Barton, and on the way home had time to process the transformation of my life over the last ten years. I was excited about where my relationship with Barton was and how much work we had done over the past few years to build a solid foundation for our relationship.

We decided that we would begin to make the change over July and August, because we seemed to have a bit of a break as many people have been gone on vacation over the summer.

Over the past few weeks, Barton & I have carved out days to write new content for the website, and it’s been a blast to get together to work on these new pieces of our vision and to put them out there for all to view.

Today, I worked on a webpage to bring a writing program to families touched by disability. Barton said it was gutsy to write, and at first I had hesitation to take it back. But this is the vision and the work that I bring to the table.

It’s who we are in helping other families. And we can’t take it back!

Diving, Again, Into the Unknown

July 22, 2011 at 7:44 pm | Posted in Barton's Blogs, Work | 1 Comment
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Dancing on the Cusp of Creation!

Dancing on the Cusp of Creation!

One day mid-spring, Megan and I sat with our list of combined projects mulling over how we could better collaborate and use the best of our strengths, both individual and combined to bring the vision of our work together into reality. After a rather in-depth exercise of putting to paper each of our individual missions and extracting from it a joint mission and vision that spoke to the heart of where we wanted to go professionally, we fell into a moment of stunned silence as we read and re-read what our combined efforts had generated.

Looking up from the paper, our eyes connected and in amazement, I asked, “Is a new company? This all can’t fit under Cutter’s Word or Blooming Lotus Coaching.”

Megan heart stopped, almost anyway, and we both watched our own minds explode with possibilities, expectations and even some trepidation. As usual, my mind naturally jumped far ahead into the realm of excitement and possibility, coming up with ideas for design, messaging, direction, and expectations of success. You know, all the fun stuff.

Megan, I think, was perhaps a bit less enthusiastic. She certainly understood the need, yet her list, some might argue, was a bit more practical wondering what the process was for changing our name, what the time and costs would be to transform our website and branding, and where we could begin to even find clients in this new arena.

It’s not uncommon for me to be the cliff-diver in our relationship. Yet, it has been wonderful to watch and participate with Megan as I watch her learn to trust me and herself at a deeper level and step out ready and willing to dive with me as her own clarity becomes even more crystal clear.

So away we went combining both lists and beginning an exciting new journey to create a new and more inclusive vision for the work that we each love to do. It’s been quite a process, one in which we are still in the midst of. Yet, as we move step-by-step through this process, we find ourselves in exciting new territory that asks us to constantly re-mold our visions and assumptions to greet these new possibilities with openness and a drive for exploration.

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