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The Caregiver’s Cairn: Spring Cleaning

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Greetings one and all...

Welcome back to The Caregiver’s Cairn. It’s hard to believe that a month has come and gone since our last chat. Spring is such a busy season—transitioning from winter to Spring is exciting as well as exhausting. Yard work. House work. Home maintenance projects. And of course, Spring cleaning! Every year, I get the itch to clear the decks and “get organized.” Easier said than done, right? Well, I invite you to sit back and enjoy a lovely cup of tea or coffee while I share with you some reflections on how Spring cleaning is related to caregiving.

Life is all about priorities. Where and how do I choose to invest my time, talents, and treasures? Do my investments reflect what I profess to value in life? And, do these investments sustain or drain me? Interesting and important questions to consider whether I am contemplating an annual Spring cleaning extravaganza or the journey of caregiving with a loved one. Whether cleaning or caring, I often perceive being busy as beneficial. But that is not necessarily so. Sometimes being busy equates to merely spinning my wheels—a futile effort that is ultimately life draining. As a good steward of my limited resources, I need to be more discerning as to how I “spend” my time and energy.

Since the death of my brother in March, I have a heightened awareness of the value of each moment. NOW is all I have. There is no guarantee beyond NOW. Thus, I best pay attention to right NOW! Companioning my brother to the end of the road reinforced the reality that there is a fine line between living and dying. In an instant, the journey is over. Consequently, there is a sense of urgency in how I choose to live in the NOW. Over the past few weeks, I have ultimately recognized that being busy is a poor substitute for being engaged with life. So, NOW what?

Well, Spring cleaning becomes more significant—actually more meaning-FULL. Yes, I will do a bit of cleaning and tidying up—some chores are unavoidable. However, the primary goal is to make room in my life for the things that fill me up and bring me joy—golfing, writing, cycling, walking, and being with friends. Granted, my basement and garage will continue to be a bit cluttered since I am opting to invest my time and energy elsewhere. But that’s OK. This Spring, I am choosing to focus on the essentials of life—family, friends, faith, and FUN (gotta enjoy the journey my friends!). I have a feeling the shift in focus will serve me well in the long run.

How about you? Is it time to shift from being busy to being engaged? If so, Spring cleaning can pave the way to a refreshing way of life—being present to NOW and savoring the moment like a delicious piece of dark chocolate. Life…it’s all about priorities! Happy Spring!!!

Thanks so much for stopping by today. I invite you to share your perspective on the caregiving journey. Make suggestions. Pose questions. Provide resources. Share your story. Coming together and sharing, we will improve the process for one and all. I look forward to continuing the conversation next month. Til then, blessings to you and yours...Jane W. Barton

Do you have a question for Jane? Please email us at coaarp@aarp.org and we will be in touch soon!

 Jane W. Barton, MTS, MASM, CSA is a passionate speaker, writer, and listener. Jane is the founder of Cardinal, LLC, a consulting firm that provides educational programs to assist people in confronting the daunting challenges posed by aging,  serious illness and disability. Jane is well-versed in the areas of grief and bereavement, caregiving, hospice and palliative care, change and transition, and spirituality and health. She presents innovative, transformational programs to community members, healthcare providers, pastoral caregivers, clergy, funeral service providers, and national audiences to improve the experience of people and families challenged by serious, advanced, or terminal illnesses. Previously, Jane served as Director of Education for a hospice and palliative care educational institution. She has also served as a hospice chaplain and bereavement facilitator in hospice and palliative care. Jane is a certified Spiritual Director as well as a Certified Senior Advisor. In a former life, she worked as a financial services representative and an exploration petroleum geologist and manager.
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