Ink in the Wheels: Stories to Make Love Roll

December 31, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Posted in Ink in the Wheels: Stories to Make Love Roll | Leave a comment
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InkintheWheelsFrontCoverInk in the Wheels: Stories To Make Love Roll

We’re excited to be publishing our memoir Ink in the Wheels: Stories to Make Love Roll, to be released February 2013! This project has been five years in the making. Originally, we were going to write our story just after we were married, but in the eight years of our marriage, we’ve learned many lessons about inter-ability marriage that are vital in the discussion of independence for those with disabilities with themes that include our own story, family dynamics, intimacy, finances and work, and losing faith in each other and ourselves- and finding it again.

Check out our new website here:
http://www.inkinthewheels.com

You can always read about our personal adventures on our personal Love Rolls On blog here!

You can watch our book trailer here!

In the Midst of Change

September 11, 2012 at 11:06 am | Posted in Megan's Blogs, Ramblings, The Nitty-Gritty | 1 Comment
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We’ve had a busy few months! After getting home from Hawaii, both Barton and I went into work overdrive, partially to try to deal all of the house repair we’ve had this summer (from the foundation of our house, air conditioner and our water heater breaking). We’ve had some major overhaul of our work, and the time of writing and editing our manuscript has taken nearly taken up every weekend.

In the midst of changing schedules, workloads and new responsibilities, we’ve been hard pressed to find any down time. And yet downtime has been so important to keep us going, so we can come back and be ever more focused.

We try to have one day each weekend as a crash day, and I’ve tried to be more forgiving when I don’t get all of the work done over the weekend. I’ve had to let go of having everything be perfect all of the time.

But what really helps us is making sure we stay connected. On Friday nights, we go out- I ride in Barton’s lap as we go to a nearby restaurant, and afterwards we watch a band play at a local music night.  It becomes a way to end the week, and a time for us to reconnect without all of the conversations purely about logistics, work or the book. We try to finish all of the half-conversations we’ve had during the week, process all the new changes and dream about what’s coming up ahead.

Over the past few years, we both have worked on refining parts of ourselves that needed to be cared for. For example, one childhood pattern that I had fallen into was anytime I felt scared, about anything- even something positive, it would express itself as frustration. And it impacted Barton & I in that anytime I was faced with something I didn’t know, resistance would pop up. Of course Barton would react to that, and then we’d have a cycle going, no fun.

Looking at the emotions behind frustration or resistance, and working on the ability to show the genuine emotion more, then Barton can come in, and we can work from a place of trust rather than bouncing off each other. Barton has done the same thing in looking at difference places within himself.

By caring for ourselves individually, we can come together better as a couple. We don’t have it figured out all of the time, but coming from a place of vulnerability creates trust and respect, and we have found it leads to a deeper love and laughter that makes life much more fun!

This past weekend, while we didn’t edit the book, we did take time to reconnect as a couple, something we really needed. And then, we go back into the fray, with new challenges for the week, but also a vision that somehow makes it all flow.

A Vacation in Paradise

July 26, 2012 at 1:49 am | Posted in Megan's Blogs, Ramblings | 3 Comments
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Helicopter ride over the volcano, as if we don't already have enough adventure. It was a blast!

Helicopter ride over the volcano, as if we don’t already have enough adventure. It was a blast!

We’ve received many questions about our trip to HI- where did we visit, why did we go, how did we get around, is Hawaii accessible? When we found out that Barton’s uncle passed away earlier this year, we knew there was talk of a family reunion in Hawaii. We had dreams of lazing by the ocean sipping Pina Coladas and Margaritas. However, when we found out that Barton’s contract would be frozen and with all of the uncertainty that goes along with that, we put off our dreams. We assumed we would either know if his contract was being renewed and be celebrating or if we would be closing up our house and finding another way of life.

Yet, the uncertainty remained as Barton’s contract was extended for a few more months, but not yet fully renewed either. In the mean time, we put our feet to work to discover new work opportunities. So our focus shifted from a full vacation or what we expected the summer to look like to family sustainability.

Barton’s family hosted us for an amazing week of adventure, renewal and relaxation, and one of Barton’s best buddies hosted us for two weekends in Honolulu also full of fun and adventure. We are so appreciative of our family and friends who gave us the time we needed to step back, take a breath of fresh air and relax.

With all of the external craziness we experienced with finding new work, a major house repair, losing AC and Barton’s 24-hour bug, we literally packed the day before we left. As exhausted as we were, we were still too excited to sleep on the plane.

Barton and Megan at Pearl Harbor.

Barton and Megan at Pearl Harbor.

As soon as we arrived, we were met with lays, beautiful and fitting for each of us. The next day we went to Pearl Harbor, so close to July 4th, it was a day of honoring those who served our country and lost their lives. Both Barton and I were deeply moved. Later, we enjoyed meeting new friends and hanging out.

We also visited the Veterans Memorial on Punchbowl. We found the elevator wouldn’t work to go to the top of the memorial. Grounds staff came, and an amazing thing happened. While they couldn’t fix the elevator, they took us all over the grounds in their golf cart. It was an amazing gesture, and over and over we would talk about how gracious their staff was to us.

Chilling by the Pool.

Chilling by the Pool.

On the Island of Hawaii (the Big Island) we spent time with family, a memorial service on the water, relaxing by the pool, laughing and telling stories over dinner. We did find that the property on the resort was so big that we did have to walk quite a long ways from one place to another. So it wasn’t as accessible as we would have liked. It took us until mid-week to really decompress from all of the mayhem that we had left behind at home.

At the Summit.

At the Summit.

One day, we took a helicopter ride over the East Ridge of one of the only active volcanoes in Hawaii. At the summit, a rainbow appeared beside the crest with steaming smoke. Both of us were so excited.

Arriving back in Honolulu, we had a completely different experience, equally fabulous, walking the streets in Waikiki, a drive to the north shore beaches, the best food and pastries one could ever ask for. It was a weekend of pure indulgence and delight.

Sadly, the day before we left our trainer called to let us know Basho, one of our dogs had died naturally during our vacation. The ride home was one of sorrow, and sleep. And yet, we were still marveling at the adventures we had had while we were away.

The Week That Wouldn’t End

July 15, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Posted in Barton's Blogs, Ramblings, The Nitty-Gritty, Wild Stories You Just Wouldn't Believe | 1 Comment
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Have you ever had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day? Well, we had one crazy week before our vacation.

Monday at 4am we drove to Charlotte to be at a daylong meeting.

Tuesday, 6am: drove home to meet clients for both Megan & I. We got home at 5pm to find Basho, our younger dog, limping. Megan took him to the vet, after x-rays found he would need surgery. Woke up at 1am, trying to decide what to do for him & was less than compassionate toward Megan.

Wednesday: Megan rushed to catch up on work as a construction crew came to repair the foundation of our house. 2pm: ran to the doctor’s office to have my pump refill, 4:30 Megan & I hadn’t eaten all day, picked up a burger & shake. 5pm: five minutes to breathe & eat. 6:30pm: On the way to bed, felt nauseous. 9:30 after 2 1/2 hrs of sleep woke up & got sick. Megan threw me in my bath chair to clean the sheets, wash me off. We decided it was wiser if I slept in my chair tipped back against the wall. 5am woke up cramped from sleeping in my chair but Megan was asleep, so I wasn’t going to say a thing. Woke up every hour for the next four hours.

Construction crew arrived at 9am on Thursday. I slept till 12:30 even after Megan asked me to wake up because she had to leave. 1:15pm: Megan enters “Barton, have you heard the AC. Come out on the back porch.” I go out on the deck & hear what resembles a sub-machine gun on steroids. We turn the AC off. 7pm Megan calls all of our neighbors trying to find someone who has floor fans that we can borrow. 9:30pm friends deliver 2 high-power fans from their office. 10pm sleep maybe.

Friday 6am: the ultimate test chicken noodle soup. It stays down thank God. Trying to rehydrate, pounded an entire liter of Poweraid in less than 5 min. 12pm: the final floor lift. We hold our breath, what else could go wrong? Will we have plumbing? Who knows, and we have to leave. 1pm: Chapel Hill Megan & I present an hour and a half video seminar on self-care for professionals yes, I did say self care. 3:30 Finally get home, I hope our plumbing still works. Only three cracked tiles in the bathroom, and the toilet still flushes. I’m saved. Megan wants to go out for dinner. I still don’t trust my stomach; no way I’m eating real food yet.

Saturday 3am: This morning I wake up on my side and need to roll over. I wake Megan who is irritable because she’s been so sleep deprived. 9am: Wake up have a marvelous conversation with my love while cuddling in bed, up by 10, coffee shop by 10:30, working on the book. 2pm: Home to finish my article, it’s 86 degrees inside the house & we sit on the sofa to do nothing because it’s too hot to move. We survive by eating Italian Ice. Sunset 8:30, Megan & I still have work to do.

Some weeks are like this. We need a vacation. Thank God we got one!!

Barton and Megan on the Bis Island.

 

Barton and Megan on The Big Island.

Barton and Megan on The Big Island.

Barton and Megan at Volcano Park with Rainbow

Barton and Megan at Volcano Park with Rainbow

Drinking from a coconut, Oahu.

Drinking from a coconut, Oahu.

We returned from vacation to find that Basho had suddenly passed away. To our Wild Child, you brought joy and youthful vitality into our lives, you will be missed!

An Honest Message About the Portrayal of Disabilities and Relationships

June 9, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Posted in Megan's Blogs, Ramblings, The Nitty-Gritty | 1 Comment
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Barton and Megan Cutter

A picture we took a while back, how we see our relationship, but not everyone has the same perspective.

Barton and I had one of the roughest weeks in a while, unraveling a mess of an issue. And while I can’t go into the specifics & detail for privacy reasons, what I do want to share is how people perceive us, and what can happen with that perception.

When we meet people for the first time, we are greeted by messages of ‘intentional’ support. I am told, “You are so good for marrying him, what you do for him is wonderful, you make him so happy.”

Normally we receive a burst of excitement with the opportunity to share another perspective to burst some of these myths.

And we give a perspective that people rarely see. They don’t know the times when Barton picks dinner up for us because I’ve had an exhausting day or when he takes work off my hands or when we kiss. And we delight in the chance to share our story, to break down barriers. It’s why we do what we do.

But this was different. This was someone who potentially had shape over how a couple with a disability was shown in public. And while we didn’t say what we needed to up front, it was something we just couldn’t let go.

This wasn’t the first time someone in the disability field gave a contradictory message. One of my first experiences with a disability organization was the president telling a member of my family that I should not marry Barton- it would be too hard and the issues for a couple with a disability couldn’t be overcome. And issue after issue was brought up to me- housing, care, transportation…. Sadly, this shaped the way my family received Barton, and it wasn’t until much later that Barton was seen for the brilliant person he is.

All because one person, who didn’t know us, told us it would be too hard. Is it hard? Sometimes, yes. Is any relationship hard? Yes- and I’d love to see one that was completely perfect. Is it worth it- beyond anything I could have ever imagined. And if I had listened to this person and had not married Barton, my life would be so empty. I can’t even think about where or who I would be.

And so with the issues that came up this last week, I just couldn’t stand by with my mouth shut. For our own personal empowerment, but more so for many other people who are affected by these false perspectives.

It’s one thing for when our book comes out for someone to disagree or write about their perspective, or make a comment on our story (which I admit, I am a bit nervous about). But it’s another to have our own perspective twisted into a way that patronizes either one of us. And so over the course of a very emotional week, we have been taking steps to correct this.

(my words with some omissions for privacy concerns)

I know when we walked around, you mentioned that Barton was so happy because of his beautiful wife who takes care of him. Ironically, this is a perspective we work very hard to change. I didn’t marry Barton to take care of him and he was happy before we met. I think the pictures of us are ok to use, but I wanted to make sure the portrayal of an inter-ability relationship was more accurate. I think if you had sat down to talk with us and asked us what shots would be appropriate for a couple, you would have realized the difference of perspectives we hope to share with the public.

The Thank You List

May 11, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Posted in Megan's Blogs, Our Love Story, Ramblings | 1 Comment
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I'm thankful for you!

I’m thankful for you!

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?

Embracing Unknown Possibilities

May 11, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Posted in Barton's Blogs, Ramblings, The Nitty-Gritty | Leave a comment
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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.

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.

Wheelchairs are Hazardous to Your Health

March 16, 2012 at 10:30 am | Posted in Around the House, Megan's Blogs, The Nitty-Gritty | 1 Comment
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wheelchairs

Playing in the sand was fun, but wheelchairs can also be hazardous to your health!

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!

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