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The Caregiver's Cairn: Attitude is Everything

jane barton
Blog by Jane Barton

Greetings one and all...Welcome back to The Caregiver’s Cairn - a sustaining and empowering guide for caregivers and care receivers. I hope you and yours have enjoyed a lovely month since my last posting. I invite you to pour a cup of coffee or hot tea, curl up in a cozy chair, and take a deep breath. Today, I want to chat about a fundamental factor that ultimately determines how we experience life—attitude. I am sure you have heard the phrase before that “attitude is everything.” Although a common phrase, the statement is predicated on extraordinary wisdom.

I have always been a firm believer that attitude is everything. Over the past twenty years, I have studied the tremendous body of research validating the importance of attitude. More importantly, I have experienced and witnessed the consequences (good and bad) of attitude (positive and negative). As a result, I resonate with a basic tenet of life articulated by Viktor Frankl in his book Man’s Search for Meaning. Frankl stated that although we can’t control everything that happens in life, we retain the freedom to choose an attitude in response to life—positive or negative. This is not a trivial decision. Our chosen attitude colors every aspect of our lives. So, choose wisely. Your life depends on it!

Last night, I attended a dinner to celebrate the 80th birthday of a dear friend. I was reminded that engaging the journey of life with a positive attitude doesn’t just happen. Being positive—seeking possibilities and opportunities in the good times and bad—is an intentional choice. As we enjoyed a lovely meal, the guest of honor regaled us with stories of a life well lived. I marveled at her courage, her wisdom, her humor, and her panache. But most of all, I was inspired by her attitude.

The birthday girl has not lived a charmed life by any stretch of the imagination. She has experienced more than her fair share of heartache, loss, trials, and tribulations. Everyday, she awakens to the daunting consequences of diabetes, congestive heart failure, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease—without complaint. Several years ago, I asked her how she keeps such a positive attitude in light of her medical challenges. She responded without hesitation, “It is what it is. Doesn’t do any good to complain about it. I just get on with my life.” Last night as the party was winding down, the guest of honor shared that reaching 80 years of age had been an important goal. Now, she’s working on 90 and hopes to see us all again for a similar celebration in ten years. Needless to say, we eagerly accepted her gracious invitation and are looking forward to another celebration of her life! The journey continues…a positive thing indeed!

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!


J ane 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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