Tags: daily living, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, gratitude, interability marriage, Megan Cutter, vision
We might be a dorky couple, but every night after we get into bed, we cuddle for a few minutes and tell each other our thank you list out loud. Usually we take turns of who goes first- Barton always remembers who went the night before. Many times our thank you list is full of what happened that day, something meaningful, big and sometimes small. We thank God in times of doubt, each other for where we are in our relationship or those who have come to support us on our journey.
There are times when we’ve had a day- you know, the kind of day that smacks you like a truck and you’d rather hide underneath the covers than crawl out of bed to face whatever disaster is going to hit or so overwhelming it’s like you can’t breathe. Or we’ve gotten under each other’s skin, those little irritations puckering up like a blister just waiting to be popped. These are the days when our thank you might be a one-sentence statement.
“I’m thankful to be alive… Your turn.”
And at first, it might seem like a cop out, but this is a powerful, powerful statement.
This week I found out a young man I grew up with, who lived just a couple of doors down from my father’s house passed away after a stroke earlier in the month.
Sunday is Mother’s Day, and I always post a picture in my mother’s memory on Facebook and take time during the day to honor her in my own special way. After her death 10 years ago, I experienced a tangible fear about dying in the middle of the night, and once this experience passed, I found myself walking with personal epiphanies seeping out, about living, and how utterly amazing life is. Our bodies are living, breathing universes.
Being alive is a miracle in the scheme of things. And lying under the covers, wrapping my arms around someone I love is heavenly, even in times of fear or heartache.
No matter what happens during the day- the greatest high or the worst possible day, our thankful list grounds me, it puts brackets on the day. It helps me not to forget all of the minute moments that we so often skip over- that word or phrase that someone says, how a certain experience impacted us, the smell of rain, a dream from the night before.
And this thank you list brings me back to what is so important to me, to us. It’s not about what I got done or didn’t get done- the successes and failures will melt into the background. We are awakened in this reflection, and yet we must lie these moments down to awaken to a new morning, a new time.
What’s on your thank you list?
Tags: Barton Cutter, coaching, daily living, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, Work, writing
Do you ever find yourself in a position where you are struggling to fight off the inevitable? I found myself in this vary situation last week, as, for various reasons one of my largest and most foundational contracts was frozen for renewal. I had known this was a possibility and yet, as the news hit my ear, during last week’s meeting, I found myself in a panic, struggling to find a way to hold on. Yet, there was none.
At the beginning of this year, I remember working with my own coach to design what I would like to the next twelve months to look like. As I worked through this vision, I noticed even in January that much of my focus and intention was placed on expanding in other areas namely completing and publishing our book as well as growing my coaching practice.
Indeed, I had been waiting for an opportunity to dive off the cliff and soar into the greatness of being a full-time coach and mentor. But the truth is, there is a bottom line that we have to account for to maintain sustainability. As I absorbed the shock last week of the fact that this contract might be placed on hold for an indefinite amount of time, I found myself examining how to balance this need for sustainability with my passion and love of coaching and mentorship.
And indeed, I am still in the process, but as I hold these two aspects side by side, I notice that I have been offered an amazing opportunity to transform my professional direction, like I’ve said in my previous posts, this will not be a denial of my writing skills, but rather a more holistic embrace of them. And, by the same token, a more holistic approach of the compassion and love of coaching.
As I have begun to search for other work, I find that my skills as a writer are indeed most essential, particularly as I notice that I cannot abandon my background and success in public relations. Yet my skills as a writer need to be harnessed and utilized within an organization that carries the same passion and commitment to supporting people as I carry in my work as a coach. I suppose when I do discover this perfect match or combination of matches with multiple organizations, I hope what I will find is an environment in which my writing abilities will be put to task as a catalysis for an transformative experience for the human soul in the same way that I witness the shift in the spirit of others after a powerful coaching session.
In a conversation yesterday with the head of a local non-profit organization, I found solace of his understanding of how the use of the tools that I bring to bear need to be implemented in such a fashion.
It is not merely about building the brand and messaging of an organization, but instead cultivating and transforming the hearts of those that work for and are touched by the organization. Herein lies the foundation for building inclusive communities.
Tags: Barton Cutter, coaching, daily living, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, vision, Work, writing
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.
Tags: disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, Ink in the Wheels: Stories to Make Love Roll, interability marriage, Megan Cutter, vision, Work, writing
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.
Tags: Barton Cutter, coaching, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, fun, gratitude, interability marriage, vision, Work
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.
Tags: daily living, disability, disability and humor, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, humor, interability marriage, Megan Cutter, wheelchairs
This week was turned upside down, literally. I don’t know what it was- the time change, movement in other areas of our lives, but it was one strange week. Monday afternoon, I found Barton at his next computer, unable to move his wheelchair out of position.
All of a sudden, there was a flurry of logistics that had to be altered and calls to the computer repair, and a discussion of what now. Luckily, he was able to get a temporary joystick on Tuesday until we are able to purchase another, a $500 replacement. And we thought we were finally treading above water.
Monday night, however, I woke up in the middle of the night, and in my dream-state, ran head on into Barton’s manual chair sitting in the middle of our bedroom. I thought I had only stubbed the skin off my toe, and went back to sleep without another thought.
Yet, in the morning, I felt a horrible pain in the back of my ribs. In running into Barton’s wheelchair, I had crunched my whole body. I was unable to catch my breath, and every movement just plain hurt. I grabbed an ice pack, and we took extra care in getting Barton up, using a back brace to make sure I was stable. The appointment to my dear neighbor and chiropractor Donna Hedgepeth couldn’t come fast enough, and I’m so appreciative how she was able to move things back into place.
All week, I’ve had to take it slow- move slow, work slow, focus on my body and what I am doing, even if I am sitting at my computer. It’s taught me to be more patient with myself. And Barton took more care too- refusing to let me pick him up if I didn’t have the back brace on.
Now, to be honest, this is not the first time I have run into Barton’s wheelchair. It’s just one of those things. One time, when the weather was gorgeous, we were running together. Barton had the dogs and I was behind him- just trying to keep up. We saw two women who waved and said hello. Barton stopped- and I didn’t- it was a full on impact. I wondered how funny it would have looked to the two women who had gapped at our position, as I almost flew over the top of the handlebars.
I admit, too that I have run Barton into people, waiting in line, not paying attention. It’s easy to do- there’s a whole spacial shift that takes place- with a metal frame and foot petals. Many people ask how Barton can train in martial arts with a wheelchair. Believe it or not, a wheelchair provides many hard and sharp angles, hidden places to wedge an opponent’s foot or arm- and that’s when Barton’s in his wheelchair.
It’s an entirely different issue when the wheelchair is empty, and apparently the opponent is me!
Tags: communication, creative expression, daily living, disability, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, Megan Cutter, vision, writing
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.
Tags: Barton Cutter, creativity, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, interability marriage, love, vision, Work, writing
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.
Tags: disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, fun, gratitude, interability marriage, love, love story, Megan Cutter, time together, vision
Last week was full of celebrations, as February 14th was Valentine’s Day, Barton and I had met on February 15th nine years ago, and Barton’s birthday followed closely afterward.
Yet, not only was it full of celebrations, but it one of our fullest weeks in quite a while. I taught four classes during the week, Barton had a conference with several adjoining events, and a barrage of emails, conversations and other to-do’s filtered throughout the week.
After Barton’s conference, we headed over with colleagues to one local restaurant, Irregardless for a celebration dinner. Owners Arthur and Anya are neighbors, and we see them often walking the path of our neighborhood. Sometimes I’ll be out with the dogs, or Barton will be zooming off to one of his meetings. This night turned out to be especially joyous. We were greeted by Arthur and Anya, students from a local school were playing incredible jazz, we shared desserts, and had a night of great conversation full of laughter. As we were leaving, the hostess asked if Barton wrote for the paper because someone had left a note for him telling him how much his articles meant- later he put it up on his desk. What an evening!
Friday, finally we had a little time on our own, and we found ourselves just being present, sharing pieces of our week, of what we learned and ideas that we had. We chatted about the generosity of others for our Kickstarter project for Ink in the Wheels: Stories to Make Love Roll and talked about how far we could go with our project. It was a delight just to feel the quiet flow of conversation and connection.
Whatever else may be going on, whatever hurdles or craziness of life has creeped up, taking the time out to celebrate, I am learning, is so necessary.
I’m one who uses lists- I have my daily to-do list, project list, creative list- it goes on. And sometimes I have a tendency to see what’s still left on my list at the end of the day, what hasn’t been accomplished. Over time, this can be awfully daunting to only see what’s left undone.
As long as we live, we will have goals and visions, things we would love to do, places where we raise the bar for ourselves, or someone else raise the bar offering a choice on whether we will jump in or stay where we are.
Taking a breath to celebrate what we have accomplished is a vital part of the journey, not to wallow in its glory, but to pause for just a moment, become aware of where we are before moving onto the next step.
There are times when these celebrations are for momentous occasions, to be shared with others, and there may be times in our lives when we need to celebrate the simplest acts, where making it through the day is a grand step, and these private celebrations are not seen by anyone.
What are you celebrating today?
Tags: disability, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, interability marriage, Megan Cutter, vision, Work, writing
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.