Sharp yellow eyes looked down on me from the window ledge as I eased the solid door shut behind me. All heads swiveled to check out the newcomer and wary stances twitched lazy tails back and forth. I had shut myself in a room full of cats. And they were all looking my way.
I am a coward. A blustery coward that talks about strength, and get-up-and-do-it power, but quakes inside with jittery nerves when asked to follow through. It’s so easy to get up and talk about having to take control of your life, your happiness, or your career, but it’s a whole wheat cookie when it comes to actually doing it.
And I can’t believe I fooled myself for so long into thinking that I was a pretty get up and go gal. Now I akin myself more to that cliche “I can’t commit” guy before the $50K wedding of a lifetime.
The cat shelter is right down the street in my neighborhood. It’s a locally owned, no kill shelter that takes in strays and sick cats and adopts them out to hopefully happy homes. We can’t have a cat since our African Grey parrot stays out all day and it’d be too stressful to even think about what would happen if he flapped down to the ground.
I’ve never owned a cat. Dogs were a constant in my childhood. My parents hate cats and while they swear we had one for a brief moment when I was 4, the supposed “scratch” I got from the kitten ended all prospects of cat ownership.
“So what am I doing here?” I whispered to myself as five pairs of eyes stared back at me. I don’t know the first thing about cats!
But I love them. I love their elegance, intelligence and demeanor. I love their fur and they’re pretty noises and cute little noses. I love dogs and all animals, but there’s something so quiet about cats that I adore. So, here I was. Day one of my first volunteer jig, facing my cowardly fear of living my life square in the face.
It took me over a year to actually getting up the nerve to take that step and make the phone call. But with the help of my therapist and just being really tired of letting myself down, I made that phone call and today I went to help out at the shelter. 🙂
I spent 2 hours today cleaning, feeding newborn kittens and learning to pet those cats brave enough to come sit in my inexperienced lap. Everyone was so welcoming and helpful (not to mention retired). The five or ten minutes I spent petting a beautiful calico that nudged my chest every time I stopped sent my heart racing.
This is what I miss out on when I let my fears take control.
And guess what? Next week, I’m going to try my hardest to make it back there to repeat it all over again. 🙂
I’ll leave you with a recipe that is both vegetarian friendly, but also lower in calories than most jams. It’s my favorite fruit combination of strawberry and rhubarb. I had some frozen rhubarb that needed using up and made this jam to go with some homemade pop tarts that were my weekend project. This jam is absolutely easy to make (less than 10 minutes) and deliciously thick.
The sweet and tart is a perfect match to my entire experience leading up to and fulfilling my cat shelter work. 🙂 Hope you enjoy it, too.
Strawberry Rhubarb Jam with Agar
- 2 cups diced rhubarb (if frozen, I thawed mine under running water and drained it due to the amount of ice in the bag)
- 2 cups chopped strawberries
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2/3 – 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp agar powder
- Place chopped fruit, lemon juice and sugar into a pot and set to medium heat.
- Bring to a boil and stir. Cook for about 5 minutes under a low boil.
- Stir in the agar powder once the fruit looks like it’s starting to break down. Keep stirring and continue to cook under a boil. Since the jam will start to thicken as it boils, you may want to turn the heat down to keep it from scorching.
- Cook about 5 minutes more or until desired thickness and consistency. You can mash the fruit down a bit if it’s too lumpy, but it’ll break down further as it sits.
- Take off heat, place into cleaned jars and store in the refrigerator once cooled.
Wonderful on toast, waffles, oatmeal and in tarts. 🙂