Monday, June 25, 2012

Beginning Again

My last post was about cheat meals. And how it's ok to have them.

What's not ok is to have a cheat meal, and turn it into a cheat day. Then the next day, have another cheat meal. And then, for the better part of a week, justify having one cheat meal a day, vs. one cheat meal for every 9 healthy meals. That's the kind of week I'm coming off of.

When I fessed up to Alvaro yesterday, his words were simple. "I'm pretty pissed off that you did that". Well, that makes 2 of us. I struggle to figure out how I can go for months eating clean and staying on the right track, then next thing I know the wheels on my wagon are wobbling and threatening to toss me off. Everyone kept telling me through my juice fast that I was so dedicated & determined. I kept saying "no, I swear I'm not!". This is the not dedicated and determined Megan you're seeing right now. Give me an inch, I'll take a mile. Which is why the juice fast was so easy for me. The rules were simple, and strict. No 10% cheat meals.

So, after the better part of a week spent alternating between healthy food and crappy (and by crappy, I mean delicious) food, I find myself at the start of a new week, ready to rededicate myself and set a new intention going forward of mindful eating. I could easily dwell on how disappointed and pissed I am at myself for slipping, but I'm going to focus on the positives. I did eat some healthy meals; I didn't abandon my eating plan entirely. I also did some amazing things this past week, that I would rank up there with the most meaningful actions I've taken in my whole life. So, in the spirit of being "off track", I'm gonna go with the flow and make this a non-food related post.

Back in April I saw a picture of a Siamese kitten shared on my vet's Facebook wall. It was instantaneous love at first sight. He was being fostered by a volunteer with the Animal Adoption League. Sammy has since become my best bud, and always puts a smile on my face. Despite the concern that seeing their frequent posts of homeless animals would tear me apart, I became a fan of the AAL Facebook page. I kept my distance, until a few weeks ago, when the story surfaced of a cat hoarding situation here in my small town. Suddenly nearly 40 cats were displaced and set up in a 1,000 square foot office building as a temporary measure. There were needs for towels, food, cages, but most of all volunteers, to come clean the cages, feed the cats, and give them a bit of loving through a very stressful situation.

For the first time, I thought "maybe I'm strong enough to do this". I don't know why I thought that, being that when I took a stray kitten to the Humane Society a couple months ago I had to sit in my car for a solid 10 minutes to stop bawling my eyes out so I could drive. This is different, and I'm not sure how. My couple days of volunteering at the "cat house" that first week went really well. All the kitties were surprisingly loving and playful for having spent a life in a very unsavory situation. They put smiles on my face and made waking up at 7:30 seem like an ok thing to do. A couple weeks later the call went out to sponsor, or satellite foster, some cats. The regular AAL volunteers were overwhelmed, with 40+ bios to be put on, applications to sift through, and home visits to make.

I volunteered to take 2 kitties under my wing and help find them homes. Sameach and Moonshine were crate-mates, and Sameach specifically caught my eye the first time I went to the house. All of these cats LOOK well adjusted given the environment (some are, some aren't as much). Sameach was the only one that visibly had been affected by his former living environment. The first time I saw him he was missing skin all over his neck and face, and his skin was covered in red, raw, oozing wounds. He looked horrible, and it made me want to cry. It also made me wonder who in the world, seeing all of these other healthy looking kitties, would choose to adopt this guy with the skin problems. And I became very concerned about the kind of home he would have- would they be compassionate enough? Would they understand that he'll probably have to be on a special diet for skin allergies, and be patient enough to give him the care he needs? I felt very strongly about finding Sameach a good, loving home. And Moonshine... he's a giant ham. He's the social butterfly of the house, greeting each cat, and demanding attention and belly rubs. He's an easy cat to love. Seeing them in this cage was no good, and I knew that the best way I could help (since my house is at maximum cat-pacity) (sorry, I HAD to!), was to find them a good home of their own.

I posted a picture of Sameach, Moonshine, and some kittens on my Facebook page. How lucky that one of my friends saw Sameach and it was love at first sight for her, just like it was for me with my Sammy. My dear friend Melinda, and her fiance Shannon, had been wanting to even out the balance in their household of 2 humans, 2 dogs, and 1 cat. I explained Sameach's special needs, and sent pictures of his skin condition to Melinda, worrying that she might want a healthier cat with no issues. Well, she's a crazy pet mom like me. It didn't matter what Sameach looked like, or what kind of special care he needed, she was sure that he was the one that was meant to make their little family complete. I can type this and be completely honest about this fact: the process of Melinda's application coming in, being reviewed and approved by the other volunteers, and taking Sameach to his new home was easily the most rewarding thing I've done in my life. The feeling that I have from knowing I helped a homeless cat (much less one with special needs) find not just any forever home, but one of the best homes I know of, is overwhelming and humbling. And totally, completely, addicting. 


Opening the door to Sameach's crate last night in the big basement room Melinda & Shannon had set aside, I fully expected him to be shy and skiddish and hide. He'd just been dewormed an hour ago, and ridden in a scary car (he was a fantastic passenger!). The opposite happened. A cat I hadn't seen at the cat house emerged- supremely curious, incredibly playful & energetic, and trusting & loving. I'd seen glimpses of these traits in Sameach before, but with only 20 minutes or so of playtime and surrounded by dozens of other cats, it's hard to get a true picture of each cat's personality. He was so overwhelmed by the space and the toys, he couldn't decide if he wanted to explore or play with his toys. This is a cat who's never been the center of attention, never had a family go out and buy a toy just for him. He's never had his own water & food bowl, never had his own bed. He relished being the center of attention, and by the time I left, he was head butting and rubbing on his new parents. Despite being scrawny and scruffy and having skin allergies, his new parents were smitten, too. Within a few hours I received a picture of Sameach sitting on his new mom's lap, cuddling.  I truly look forward to many years of pictures and updates of him enjoying his new life with a really great family.


On Saturday we held an adoption event at a local cat-friendly business to help raise awareness for these "Cat House" kitties. It was a huge success! By the time I arrived, several had already been adopted, and a young single guy and his parents were looking at cats. I heard them mention Moonshine, so I went into full sales-lady mode and gushed about how awesome this cat is. They took him back to a room to play with him, and came out 15 minutes later. Sharon (Sammy's foster mom!) was carrying Moonshine in a carrier, and the young man and his parents followed. She had a big smile on her face and told me that yes, he wanted to give Moonshine a home. I spoke to he & his family for a while- his parents were visiting from Mexico, and he lives in Rock Hill. He grew up with the family cats, and felt like it was time to have a companion of his own. He is a really nice guy, and seemed genuinely excited to give Moonshine a home. After completing the application, they were off to PetsMart to buy Moonshine his first very own litter box, bed, & toys. This afternoon I take Moonshine to his new home, and I can't wait to see how he takes to being the center of attention for the first time too. 

To say this has been a rewarding week would be the understatement of a lifetime. It's easy to get caught up in the sadness of this situation, but the smiles that these guys put on my face makes it well worth it. Seeing them find their new homes, and knowing I had a hand in it, is indescribable. I hope to continue helping in any way I can- I know a few other cats at the house need a sponsor, so once Moonshine is all settled I look forward to getting my new "foster" kitties to help find forever homes.

So, I'm trying not to be too hard on myself about a weeks worth of some bad food decisions. My next blog will include a "cheaty" type recipe, as a send off, but it might be one of the healthiest & most delicious desserts you've had (think local peaches & blackberries!). I have a back-log of recipes (that were definitely healthy!) to share from fabulous meals I made this week- vegan & gluten free pizza, and some raw cherry & chocolate energy bites. Stay tuned for some more fabulous foodage, and I ask my friends to help me stay accountable to my goals and help get me back on the right track! 

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