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The Caregiver’s Cairn: Spring—Images of Caregiving


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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. It’s time to relax, recharge, and reflect. Spring is a lovely time of year, isn’t it? However, the season brings with it additional tasks, chores, and duties. Birth (and rebirth), growth, renewal, and transformation often require intensive and extensive care.

About a month ago, we enjoyed some unseasonably warm weather in Denver. I felt the seasonal itch to clean the house from top to bottom and dig in the dirt. The time had arrived to purge all signs of winter past and clear the decks for spring. Spring fever—that wonderful sensation when we feel alive to the tips of our hair! Open the doors and windows. Air out the dark and musty places of our homes and hearts. It’s time to savor warmer temperatures and longer days. Spring—the season that reminds us that in order to thrive, we must take good care of our homes, our loved ones, and ourselves.

This past weekend, I witnessed the variety of care required by the coming of spring. Walking through my neighborhood, I noticed people washing, cleaning, mowing, raking, weeding, planting, watering, scrubbing, and painting. There was a lot of “ing” happening in my ‘hood! Despite the amount of effort required, my neighbors seemed to enjoy the process of caring for their homes and yards. There is nothing like the satisfaction derived from a job well done!

Spring also delivers (literally) other opportunities that require intensive care—newborns of all shapes and sizes! My family is a fan of the eagle webcams that document the incubation, birth, and growth of fuzzy eaglets in various parts of the country. Technology provides a “bird’s eye view” of the daily care provided by the parents as well as the challenges posed by nature. Several weeks ago during an early spring snowstorm, an eagle remained on her nest in order to protect her eggs from the frigid temperatures and accumulating snow. When the snow finally abated, the eagle was completely covered in snow. She chose to courageously confronted the challenge in order to care for her own. An amazing image indeed! And yet, so very familiar. When caring for those we love, we often risk our own well-being. Hence, we need to acknowledge and establish limitations of care if we are to continue to care.

Spring should serve as an important reminder that in order to care for the places and the people we love, we must first care for ourselves. To care well, we must be well—physically, emotionally, spiritually, and psychosocially. So, consider initiating a plan of self care this spring. Begin every day with the intention of taking good care of YOU! Listen to the sounds of spring. Savor the seasonal smells. Relish the warmth. And wonder at the amazing images of spring. Allow the season to fill you up and bring you joy. Be present to the moment. Be open to the possibilities. Be well—now and in every season of life.

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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