What do you do when your world feels out of control but you have the strength of developer?
You foster puppies, of course!
The strength of developer is defined as seeing the potential in others. You see everything as having potential and being alive with possibilities. You want to see others experience some bit of success. You look for ways to challenge them and to spur on growth. You come up with ways to help them develop and grow, sometimes in new areas. You are constantly looking for signs of growth, new behavior learned or modified, or a slight improvement in a skill. These signs of growth in others fuel you, bringing great and genuine satisfaction. Modified from the Gallup Strengths Definition.
I found myself needing to do something outside of myself. The constant focus of my new diagnosis and the worry of so many things that I couldn’t fully wrap my mind around were dragging me down, emotionally. It overwhelmed me at times and I needed to be able to see other things and not just the cancer. I had to be able to play in my strengths area in a safe and satisfying way.
I had some challenges that brought me into contact with an animal rescue organization; Rescued Pets are Wonderful or RPAW. I saw some of what goes into animal rescue and it opened my eyes to the reality of what some dogs go through. It broke my heart. I also realized that puppies need developing and that they didn’t care or notice my health challenges. They just needed someone to love on them and to help them learn some basic skills of household and family. This challenged me as well as fed my spirit. It was rewarding to see a pup go from severe anxiety and neglect to a mild anxiousness and physical health. My first pup was a rock star. She learned to be part of family, basic household skills and to trust that she would be cared for consistently. She flourished with each passing day. I could see her physically fill out as she was eating and exercising regularly. I also noticed that as her anxiety lessened she learned a new skill, to her at least, the art of play! She had gone from shut down distant to attached and engaged to her new play mates! It was tough sending her off to join another family but it was the most rewarding endeavor. She is now part of a family that loves her dearly and she has a new chance at living the life she deserves.
Our second foster was a set of sibling puppies. They were crazy fun. Ok, sometimes a little more crazy, but still very satisfying. We had them for almost two weeks until they found their new homes. They grew and changed a lot in that short time. Again, it was rewarding to hand them off to their new families and to know that we had a little part in getting them ready to be someone’s new buddy.
I recently met a woman in infusion who was there for the first time. She was nervous and unsure. She asked me for any suggestions and helpful advice. One thing I told her was to continue to do the things that bring your heart joy. It may have to be modified for a time, but do those things. This seemed to bring her some bit of peace and reassurance. As she enters into this time of so many new and, initially, scary experiences may she find herself in the midst of her places of peace and joy.
What brings you joy? What makes your heart sing? How do you play to your strengths areas? If you struggle to find these I would encourage you to try something new. Maybe it is a new hobby or adventure. Volunteering? Learning to paint? Maybe it is fostering a pup in need!
Facing a life changing circumstance can be a lot like eating an elephant. You have to give yourself time to process and take it all in but also space to not have to be thinking about all of the possible scary scenarios. Sometimes we all just need to take time to focus on the beauty in front of us. The things that bring joy to our hearts. When I think about taking care of my mental and spiritual health and wellbeing this verse is a good reminder for me.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things.