In 1972, during my mid-teenage years, I read the autobiography of Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965), “Out of My Life and Thought”. I was deeply moved by his choice of how he wanted to live his life. He was raised in an affluent family in Germany and after graduating from medical school, announced to his friends and family that he was going to move to Africa to open up clinics for lepers. He said that since God had bestowed him so many blessings, he wanted to give back to the world. Most of his friends and family thought he was simply crazy and wasting his life. But he did move to Africa and lived his life as a medical doctor helping lepers.
So I decided that I also wanted to be a medical doctor in Africa. However, fate had a different plan for me. My dear mother, Virginia Fouche Bolton, was an art teacher and just becoming widely known here in South Carolina as an artist for her brilliant watercolor painting. I began to take lessons from her, both in high school and at home. My life as an artist began to unexpectedly blossom - by the time I graduated high school, I was the most awarded student in my home state. I still had the desire to go to medical school, but my SAT’s were not that impressive, to say the least. I had also failed my last algebra exam and dropped out of physics my senior year because it looked like mumbo-jumbo to me.
My mother encouraged me to apply to The Rhode Island School of Design, the most prestigious art school in the USA. RISD awarded me a full four year scholarship, based on my art portfolio. My career as an artist seemed sealed.
A few years after graduating with a BFA in Painting, I received a National Endowment for the Arts Award for a series of paintings I created, called “The Life of Betty”.
I loved to paint but I also loved medicine, the healing arts - both of the mind and body, and helping others. In my spare time I loved reading articles on medicinal plants, vitamins and the like. I became more and more drawn to the idea that we can heal ourselves of any disease. I was enthralled with both Allopathic and Chinese Medicine.
My early love and admiration of Albert Schweitzer finally bore fruit for me in the year of 2007, when I happened across a wild litter of kittens in a gas station parking lot in a hard area of town. After trapping them, more cats and kittens started to come out of the nearby areas looking for food. I became a bit obsessed in trying to help them. Many of them were sick, most starving, and, well, I became their doctor and healer. It was a huge amount of work and took enormous amount of my time and money, and so I had to give up painting. My friends and family simply thought I was nuts - that I should be a full time painter.
I had a financial reality check a few years ago and realized I couldn’t continue cat rescue at the rate I was doing it or else I would be homeless on the streets with them. So I decided to begin painting again, as a way to connect with my early talent and also to finance my cat rescue. It took about six months of painting very bad paintings in late 2015 to finally get the hang of it back.
So now I am painting and hoping to do more cat rescue. I still feed and care for daily, four colonies of cats on a hard inner street here in Charleston. (These kitties are too feral to be re-homed.) I realize that it is such an odd combination of work, but I find myself in the flow of my life now. I hope the sale of some of my paintings will allow me to rescue more kitties on nearby streets.
I love what Tony Robbins repeatedly uses as his life motto: You have to grow and you have to give. However one gives back to the world doesn’t really matter - it’s important, though, to find the way you love to give.
Thank you for visiting my cat rescue site.
Wishing you all good things!