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, 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: 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: Barton Cutter, daily living, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, fun, gratitude, interability marriage, love, martial arts, vision, Work
A couple of night ago in martial arts class, we were working on a technique that had a particularly light feel. The person who I was working with was a rather large guy who tends to rely on his muscle to make techniques work rather than relaxation and body mechanics.
At first, I was a little worried about how to make something so light work against a person who appeared to be so sturdy. The first time I did the technique, I felt myself picking up on his tension as I moved in to take him off balance. My teacher came over and watched for a minute. Grabbing a chair and plopping himself into it, he said, “No Barton, try it this way.”
With just as much grace and softness, he dropped the same 200-pound guy with a turn of his head and a bend at the waist. I got a feel for how to maintain that feeling of easy playfulness despite what the attacker was bringing to the interaction and tried again. As I began to incorporate the feel, I noticed that the less effort I put into making it work, the better the outcome.
Toward the end of class, the technique came more easily to me, and what I began to notice was that as I moved and allowed myself to have patience with my own movement, the rigidity and tension in my training partner began to dissolve. There were even a few times where, after he collapsed onto the floor, we looked at one another and wondered, how the heck did that even happen. All we knew was that one minute he had tried to punch me and the next he couldn’t stand and was on the ground.
The next morning, Megan and I were chatting about how busy the past few months have been, and how there was still a feeling that in spite of all we had done, there was still even more to do. And we wondered how on earth we would ever get through it all. Don’t get me wrong, all of this work is dear to both of our hearts and we are completely excited by every facet of it. Yet, the sheer quantity of “to do’s” is at times overwhelming.
All of a sudden, the lesson from the night before flashed in my head. I laughed as I looked Megan deeply into the eyes. “What’s so funny?” She questioned.
I told her what had happened at class and said, “I think it’s the same thing. Somehow we need to drop all of these to do’s and just play with what ever it is that we are working on. The to-do’s will always be there, don’t worry about them getting lost. For now, let’s pick one thing and work on it lightly.”
And so we did. As I suspected, it worked itself out just as the technique in class had the night before. No effort required, just a soft touch and a light heart.
Tags: Barton Cutter, daily living, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, gratitude, household chores, vision, Work
It’s amazing to me how growth comes. Recently, Megan and I caught the inspiration to reorganize our house to make space for a creativity studio. This studio, as we envision it, is intended to be as shared space where the two of us can work together, see clients, and serve as a room for creative play as we build our new business. In only a weekend Megan had excavated our dining room, and embarked on designing the space to meet its new destiny.
It soon adorned a padded floor, a comfy arm chair fit for coaching clients, bookshelves filled with games and children’s books fit for a range of ages and desk waiting to support a range of creative projects. In the process, we found ourselves not only re-evaluating the space for this room individually, but we also began to examine how we were utilizing space throughout our house and the further we explored the greater transformation took place.
As we assessed each furniture item for the purpose it served our family, we noticed that our relationship to it shifted as we assessed it in relation to a new vision for our lives, both as a family and as business partners. As Megan, in particular, went through items associated with her family’s history, I noticed that there was a clear shift in her priorities, which, to be honest, amazed and excited me.
I have always been one to hold a deep value of open spaces and utility in my personal possessions, and many times, I have been somewhat extremist in my drive to eliminate the unnecessary. Megan, however, grew up with what I understand to be a different set of values in which the sentimental value of an item was highly prized and therefore justified its place within her space. Because of this, I have learned over time to curb my urge to purge.
You can imagine my amazement then, when it was she who went on a purging spree. At first, I was somewhat hesitant to join her, and in fact at the beginning of the process, I was the one making sure that nothing got purged that she would later regret. Yet, as we went through the process and I gained confidence in her vision and commitment, we both had a great deal of fun getting rid of what was outside of our new vision. What emerged from this process was quite unbelievable. Virtually every room in our house was transformed into an open and spacious environment.
I knew that, at the completion of this transformation, this offered us far more than either of us had imagined when Megan commented, “I can finally feel our house breathing again.”
Tags: daily living, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, fun, gratitude, interability marriage, love, Megan Cutter, time together
For many years, especially in the period after my mother passed away I kept a gratitude list in my journal. Somehow in the years after moving to Raleigh, the practice got lost in the long list of things to do that always ran off of the day’s hours. After a particularly strange week of just odd things happening around us, I found myself steeped in a whirlwind of frantic energy.
Last week, I had travelled to the beach to write for the day and to return to a place of centeredness. While I was journaling, I wrote down a quick list of things that I was thankful for. Since then, Barton and I have started the day or ended the day in dialogue about what we have gratitude for.
The list has included everything from being together, a success of the day, walk in the morning to more general items like being alive (as an incident occurred a few blocks from our house), water, or surviving the budget for one more month.
What I noticed was that being in dialogue with our gratitude was very different from writing it in my journal when I was alone. I found that speaking our gratitude lists to one another allowed us to come into a deeper connection.
In partnerships or relationships, it’s easy to identify the things that aren’t done, the empty fulfillments, the statements of- you need, you should, or you haven’t. After years of being together, it’s still important to acknowledge the things a partner has done and fulfilled. I’ve noticed that when we’ve exchanged these bits of gratitude, there is a deeper appreciation for each other and our journey together.
What do you have gratitude for? Share it with someone this week!
Tags: disability, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, gratitude, interability marriage, Megan Cutter
We spent the week in Chicago, IL preparing for my brother-in-law’s wedding, and as we helped tie ribbon for welcome bags and ran errands with Barton’s dad and stepmother, naturally, we began to reminisce about our own wedding, five and a half years ago.
I remember when I pulled out the Alabama football schedule, Barton thought I was nuts since neither one of us like football, but for the rest of the town, football is a religion, so for traffic and attendance, we had to know what was going on around us.
So many family members and friends were a part of our wedding ceremony, both known and unknown. We felt that it was indeed a ceremony that connected our souls together but also connected our friends and family to each other.
We were privileged to have friends who built the ramp from the alter to the aisle where Barton would walk me out of the church as a married church, very close friends who prepared the communion bread and wine and tied programs together. My stepmother and stepaunt organized a breakfast for all of the bridesmaids, and my dad put together a picture montage that included many of our family & friend communities. Barton’s family introduced me to Randolph, NH with a speech, hat and pictures.
Those who stayed hidden behind the scenes included those who swept and cleaned the student center where the reception was to be held, family members who decorated the reception area, those who cleaned afterwards and brought items back to the house. So many details that were taken care of, we did not even know about.
Before walking me up the aisle, my dad told me to remember this day, enjoy this day. I will cherish those words, and I was able to really be present during the ceremony & party afterwards, taking everything in. And while my mom was not there, I felt her presence and blessing around me.
I’ve talked before about how we made the wedding our own- Barton’s unique way of getting the ring on my finger, how we exchanged bites of cake with a kiss, and the Velcro garter that my best friend made specifically so Barton could rip it off with his teeth.
One image that I will always remember is when Barton and I were dancing. We were standing, and I had glanced over his shoulder to see one of his family members reading one of our poems, lightly touching the picture frame with tears in her eyes.
The power of the ceremony went well beyond ourselves or our marriage; it rippled out to our family and friends.
Of course there were little things- we were unprepared for how long pictures would take afterwards and shooed out of the church to greet guests. And tension that showed itself in unexpected places.
At Andrew & Lauren’s reception, Barton & I danced the night away, and I realized that I love Barton more than ever before, and recently we have been able to enjoy each other more. Challenges of life will always be there- work, finances, fires to put out, but beyond all of the mundane little things, there is a love that transcends.
Tags: disability, disability and humor, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, gratitude, interability marriage, Megan Cutter, vision, Work, writing
Recently, Barton has been reading Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink, which dispels illusions about motivation. Research has found that motivators such as money or the use of positive rewards actually hinder performance. Why? People work best and are actually more creative, inventive and advance further when there is an underlying passion or belief about the work.
The past few weeks, we’ve had discussions about motivation in our own lives and these discussions have caused me to take a long look at what I was taught about motivation and how I can begin to shift these patterns to create more authentic patterns in the drive behind my work and my life.
One of the patterns I realized I was living into is the “if…then…” philosophy. If I can accomplish this, then I can do that. If I can finish this project, then I can work on my manuscript. If we had this much money, then I could do that. And it goes on and on. The underlying issue is the belief that at the end of the day, I have to accomplish a list of realistic, tangible goals that meet objective- but whose objectives and what do they really have to do with my values?
As a child, often our motivation is to please our parents, and this was certainly true in my case. Further impressed by switching houses between divorced parents so frequently, it was much later in my childhood development when I found a sense of independence. When I graduated from college, I had expecting to be married right away, and when that didn’t happen the way I thought, I found myself clinging to a 8-5 job, pushing away the creativity that had sustained me throughout my youth. It wasn’t until after my mother passed away that I truly began to ask myself about what was the vision in my work and personal life.
The last year, I have found that the more I live into my creativity and value it as a precious gift that is meant to open the space for others to find their own voice, the more authentic I am both in my work and in my life. Over and over I had denied this creative aspect of myself for the approval of family or mentors or those around me. This illusion reeked havoc on the belief in my own goals, talents and visions.
As Barton and I move forward both independently and collaboratively on new projects and goals, we are also shifting the motivators in our lives. Yes, we need to pay the bills to sustain our family, but the primary motivation has to be something deeper than that. We are finding a new passion in our work.
For Mother’s Day, I spent the afternoon with Barton painting, something I had not given myself permission to do in a long time, and last night, Barton wrote an exquisite poem that blew me away. He had to give himself permission to write, apart from other work projects. Just as I must give myself permission to work on creative projects in tandem with projects that support our family.
It’s not easy to shift these patterns, but it’s slowing me down, helping me to take a look at the fundamental values in my life, respecting my talents and vision or mission and opening up the possibilities in entirely new ways.
Tags: disability, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, gratitude, Megan Cutter
This weekend, Barton and I drove to Tuscaloosa, Alabama for my grandmother’s memorial service. While we were caught in the snow and ice in Charlotte, we did finally make it. I read the piece below at the service on Sunday. When Barton and I would visit my grandmother, we would have the most incredible exchanges, most of them without any words.
There’s almost more that I don’t know about my grandmother than what I do. I don’t know what it was like for her growing up, being a minister’s wife, or raising three children in times of uncertainty and change. I didn’t know her in her younger years, a Southern Woman, wearing magnificent dresses and style of the time. I didn’t see her when she taught classes to children or Body Recall to seniors.
But what I do know are precious moments in time, and so today I will link some of those memories together, little jewels like pearls on a necklace.
I remember my grandmother reading to me as a child, and when I would visit Tuscaloosa, we would sit in the living room upstairs reading or talking. She would make frocks for me to wear, but I was much more interested in wearing overalls. I would know my grandmother by her conversations with my mother in the kitchen making dinner or the lunches after church when granddad would retire downstairs.
If we went out, we would go to 5th Street Diner, or if it was a special occasion, Cypress Inn. It would always take us some time to determine the best place for us to sit, usually by the glass windows overlooking the water.
As time progressed, there were memories of uncertainty, concern and anguish over her fading memory. There were also moments of humor and laughter, like the time when granddad came home to a house full of Beannie Babies, little stuffed animals. Now I can tell you that my mother was as much of an instigator as grandmom in this adventure. The downstairs Christmas tree that was filled with Beanie Babies was a symbol of their spirit, laughter and life.
When granddad had surgery, grandmom’s fire and spunk was made known to us all. But when we took her to granddad’s room in recovery, they sat next to each other in silence. While we left to give them some privacy, for just a moment, a milla-second really, I noticed granddad pat her on the knee and on the face. I learned more about endearing love in this moment than nearly at any other time in my life.
Grandmom knew my husband Barton not by his name, but by his face. We would walk into her room, and she would pat Barton’s goatee and laugh. Every visit would begin in this way. We were there with her, wherever she was in that moment. The past didn’t matter, the future did’t matter, only that present moment.
Once, she advised me that when I got married, not to pay any attention to what my husband thought or said, just to do what I wanted to do anyway. She told me that while granddad was downstairs or away at church, she would dance. Now while I haven’t completely taken her advice, what I believe she meant was not to worry about what other people thought or said. She blazed her own path, and whether it was known or hidden, she lived an independent life.
Everyone here may have different memories, that of a mother, a grandmother, a church member, a teacher, a friend. Today we honor and celebrate these memories so that we may live our lives fully, in the present moment, as she did.
My mother wrote to me one time saying, “Your path isn’t easy, it is made of jewels milked with stones that make you strong and able.” This is how I remember both my grandmother and my grandfather.
Tags: disability, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, gratitude, Megan Cutter, vision
Recently, we were talking about celebrating our fifth year anniversary with the adventures in Hatteras Island with the storms of Ida and the Nor’eastern. We had taken the accessible van we had rented a few miles north, supposedly to higher ground. When we realized we would be evacuating by ferry, we knew we would have to retrieve the van. I called the Island Taxi, who called just less than a mile from our van saying the flooding was too bad. She turned around and headed back.
We knew we needed to get the van so we could get on the next ferry evacuating off of the island, so immediately, I changed clothes and dug out Barton’s water shoes- thank God we brought them! Barton made me take my cell phone and watched me from the balcony as I began the hike through the water-covered streets to pick up the van.
At that moment, the rain had stopped, but the wind was still pretty fierce. Several times I stopped, thinking there were sirens going off, but then realized it was only the wind. I climbed the washed banks of the dunes, navigating a path along the side of the road.
Every so often Barton would call me on the cell- how are you doing? He would tell me about cars or obstacles I needed to navigate through. I got focused very quickly- the faster I walked, the sooner I would get there.
Several days before, we walked the same path, and I would calculate how much further I had to go by landmarks we had passed the previous day. We had also picked out small little round briers from Bear’s feet. Twice I walked through these patches, and picked the briers off of the water shoes and my ankles.
Also, jellyfish were blown in onto the beach from the storms. Not realizing why my ankle was stinging, I later found I had been stung by a Man O’War, nasty little buggers.
As I got closer to our van, I get somewhat concerned because I was walking what I was going to be driving back through. On the other side of the street, a wooden cross bridge was not floating in the road. Yet, I knew I couldn’t stop.
Why am I including this fun little escapade in our blog? There were so many lessons we took from this. We knew what we needed to do and wasted no time getting ready and were focused on doing what needed to be done. We didn’t pay attention to what other people said or thought, we just got on the path and did what we needed to do. We are both still learning how to apply this lesson in other areas of our lives. Barton had my back- he watched me the entire way and called to check in and to give a head’s up on what I needed to watch out for.
Was my life in eminent danger? Maybe not. But who knows what was around the corner. The metaphor of the storm is one we are still processing. We were full of awe at the power of nature, every time a wave would crash, we couldn’t help but just feel so humbled.