I recently listened to the commencement address given by U.S. Navy Admiral William McCraven that began with “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.” He went on to elaborate that “If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day,…” “ It will give you a small sense of pride.”
While at the time I enjoyed his perspective, I’m not sure I realized then why his words held meaning for me until recently when I was talking with Cindy Buckingham — friend, Shelter volunteer coordinator, camp leader, great lady and fellow foster – and, as often is the case, we found ourselves crying over our love for all things “fostering”. It was then that Admiral McCraven’s words popped back into my head with flashing neon lights encircling them.
I also thought of them this morning when I was rushed out the door without carefully arranging in color and pattern alternating, parallel rows the myriad of throw pillows that belong on my bed but rather left them on the floor. I’ll not be happy with myself when I get home tonight. But I digress.
Cindy and I were chatting about a prospective foster who had confessed to carrying around the foster care application in her purse until she saw Cindy’s picture of one of her fosters and read the declaration of Cindy’s love for fostering. Trying not to sound too pushy or too crazy, we tactfully (we were tactful, weren’t we Cindy?) encouraged her to turn that application in and get started changing her life. Too bad we don’t sell Amway…we could have made a million!
While I enjoy time in the shelter working directly with the animals there, helping with events, getting our kids camps going, working fundraisers (yes, I enjoy making gallons of hotdog sauce for bingo), building the SPOT Clinic (didn’t actually lay the block myself but enjoyed the design work), etc. I realize more and more what makes each day of my life better is the simple fact that I begin and end each day taking care of animals that need me. Not just my own animals but moreover those that I’m fostering for the shelter.
Those that in the worst cases might not survive if I wasn’t able to bring them into my home and in the best cases, those that by being with me are freeing up much needed space for others in our shelter. Honestly the worse they are…the more I love it. That might be the sleep deprivation talking but truly, I love the tiny bottle babies that require I get up every few hours for feeding. Those that come to me starving or sick that weeks later I will see flourishing and fat! Those that just need a quiet place to be.
Because I foster I wake up each morning with an opportunity before me. Sometimes beside me sweetly curled up in the bed. Sometimes across the living room in the powder room (foster headquarters for tiny puppies) screaming for breakfast. Sometimes 100 feet away in the warm garage-like structure that is now my Puppy Litter Nursery and Day Care Center. Sometimes (often) I awake to the gentle romping of foster kittens above me in my guest room. Okay, that was a stretch for dramatic license…they actually sound like baby elephants on the wooden floors but I love to hear their scampering. Scampering equals happy.
Regardless of where they are, I go to bed each night with that sense of satisfaction of some accomplishment. Granted sometimes exhausted to the point that all my senses are muted, but without a doubt, I end every day – the frustrating work day or even the frustrating shelter day — buffered from the negativity by the sense of satisfaction that I receive from fostering. I need it more than most people could ever understand. It keeps things in perspective, helps me focus my time and energy on things that matter and encourages me to stay out of the crap that really doesn’t.
As Cindy and I tearfully confessed, we could give everything else up but fostering. It is an addiction. It is a beautiful drug that lifts you when you are down, sparks your energy when you are tired, and reassures you when you are discouraged.
So what if the side effects of the addiction are stepping in a little spot of puppy pee now and then, a 3 a.m. wake up call for a bottle, or a chewed computer cord or two (or three). Perspective, remember?
As the Admiral said…
Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that the little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right. And if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made — that you made. And a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.”
Even better than a made bed is a thriving kitten that you’ve bottle fed after their mother and siblings were all killed by a car or a once mange covered, hairless Boston Terrier, who is now healthy and beautiful and ready for their forever home.
So make your bed…foster…and change your life!
You can listen to his entire commencement address at: http://www.today.com/news/navy-seals-advice-grads-make-your-bed-every-morning-2D79695461“
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