From a pet ‘free-thinker’ to a cat lover, this writer learns valuable life lessons from the three cats she’s currently living with that she has grown to love a little more every day.
I was never a pet lover and had never owned a pet. Growing up, my parents never allowed my siblings and I to keep any furry animal that we rescued on the way home from school despite our pleas and promises to be responsible for them. Of course, our parents knew better. They know at some point, the novelty of owning a pet, feeding and caring for an animal would wear off and they would have to take over the responsibilities of feeding, bathing, cleaning and playing with the animals.
They further reasoned that we could have as many pets as we want once we live on our own. Therefore, I’ve never understood the connection pet owners establish with their pets nor have I experienced the warm, fuzzy feeling that I’m currently experiencing after living with my sister’s three cats for close to 3 years now.
Every year seems to fly by fairly quickly and this year is no exception. Whether we’re ready or not, we’re now well into the final weeks of 2019 and will be ushering in the new year before we know it. So, how has the year 2019 been for you? As I look back on this road I’ve travelled, I’ve seen so many times my cats ‘purr-ed’ me through. If there’s one thing I have learned in my life – we learn unexpectedly; from the most unexpected things, times and places.
I began the year 2019 wide-eyed and hopeful for my career to take flight again after leaving a comfortable paid position at a listed company years earlier to pursue my passion. My goal for the year 2019 would be to assume a position at a multinational company, earning a decent salary and doing the thing I love most – counselling. However, life as we know it don’t always turn out as planned. There were no responses from companies that I submitted my resume to and I was expecting my first child!
As someone who is religious and spiritual, the circumstances, signs and confirmation from surrounding people just seemed to direct me towards starting my own private practice. Although it has always been my dream to start my own practice someday, I wasn’t ready to do it now, well not for at least a couple more years. My priority now would be to care for my little one and yet have the flexibility of planning my own work schedule. I was happy and contented for a while until life threw another curve ball.
I suffered a miscarriage. I’ve never experienced a loss so great and so sudden. Many thoughts ran through my head: Did I not take care of myself well enough? Was it something I did or ate that caused the miscarriage? Although loved ones meant well by saying “maybe the cells didn’t form properly so it’s better for the body to expel it” or “you can always try again”- these words did nothing to comfort me.
Be There for Someone
What comforted me were my cats! They somehow knew that I was hurting emotionally and came to me for more snuggles than usual and simply sat beside me. Their presence provided me the space I needed to cry and feel my emotions without having to worry about being judged or be asked to explain why I was feeling so sad. My cats were there for me when I needed comforting and they were doing exactly what I would do for my clients. Often, just simply being there for someone whose world is crumbling is all that is needed to keep the person from falling. Letting the person know that you care and will be there for them does wonders more than words could.
In the context of personal finances, how are you using your money to benefit others? Money is merely a medium of exchange for goods and services. The value of money comes from how you spend it. Are you spending on your loved ones and causes that are dear to you?
Seek Help When You Need It
Like some people, I questioned why I had to go through this painful episode in my life. Many months later, a close friend confided that her OB-GYN warned of a possible miscarriage and when it did happen, she knew whom she could talk to and journey alongside this painful path with. Miscarriages are more common that we think.
According to the March of Dimes, a nonprofit organization in the United States focused on improving the health of mothers and babies reports that about half of pregnancies end in miscarriage before a woman even knows she is pregnant while about 15-25% of recognized pregnancies will end in miscarriage. One of the reasons why we think it’s uncommon is because people don’t talk about it. It’s become a social stigma like mental health is. Yes, it’s painful and not something to be proud of but it is a natural physiological response due to the unborn baby’s fatal genetic problems.
And it’s okay to seek help and process the bout of emotions running through. Whatever you’re going through today, know that it is perfectly okay to ask for help when it seems too much to bear. My cats meow for food when their bowl is empty or clings onto my clothes when they want to be carried. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need when you need it most.
There is no way to be an expert in everything. Seek professional help in various aspects of life when you need it. If you need an advice from a doctor, financial planner, lawyer, counsellor or other professionals, do see one! It is even more expensive to not seek professional help when you need it!
Appreciate What You Have
For cat owners, you’ll know that your cats only come to you as they please and not when you holler them over. So, I’ve learnt to appreciate the times when my cats unexpectedly jump onto my lap causing my drink to spill and when they decide to walk all over me when I’m sleeping comfortably on the couch because that’s when I get to stroke them and give them a gentle massage. Besides, I can never predict when these rare and precious moments may come by.
Rather than choosing to be upset, choose instead to make the best of the situation. Like financial markets, life is never linear. Ups and downs are constant. The loss I experienced earlier this year is now replaced with joy as I’m currently expecting again. I’m now in my second trimester and am reminding myself to enjoy this moment before the baby arrives and my life will be forever changed.
As the saying goes, learn to appreciate what you have before time makes you appreciate what you had. If it helps, consider writing down at least 5 things that you are grateful for the day before going to bed every night. It is easy to take our loved ones for granted when we’re busy chasing dreams only to regret it someday when our loved ones are no longer with us or when our health gives way. While we still can, love unconditionally and be present in the moment. Review your life’s priorities and make changes where necessary.
If you have a roof over your head and money in your bank, you are far more fortunate than many people in the world! Count your blessings and be thankful for what you have. It is easy to envy what others have but we don’t know the sacrifices they have gone through to get to where they are today. We each have our own journeys so keep moving ahead and while you’re at it, take time to smell the roses along life’s pathway.
Moving Forward to 2020
How has the year 2019 been like for you? If it was mostly good, great! What did you do or experience to make it great? Who were the people who came alongside you that contributed to that greatness? Show your appreciation to them! Chances are they have also sacrificed a part of themselves to support you.
If the year 2019 was a particularly challenging one, give yourself a pat on the back and be proud of yourself for persevering through thus far. You are more resilient than you realize! What precious lessons have you learned? Is there something you need to do more of or less of?
For most of us, the year 2019 is probably an equal mix of good and bad. What are you most thankful for? What changes would you like to make so that the year 2020 will be a more meaningful one for you and your loved ones?
For me, I’m thankful for the reminder of how precious yet fleeting life is. How will I live differently today if I knew how much time I had left? There are definitely some changes I would want to make. I need to be less harsh on myself and show more grace to others. I also need to remind myself that I can never be a perfect mum and I don’t need to be one. I just need to be a good enough mum for my child and my cats have taught me that there is only one ingredient in being a good mother – LOVE! If I can learn to love cats and be a good mother to them despite their annoyance, I can love a tiny human being growing inside me right now.
Very soon, my life as I once know it will be completely different. For starters, my sleep schedule will be determined by the little one’s wake and sleep cycle, no more late movie nights with hubby, I know that I have to trust my instincts to do what is best for my child despite good intentions from relatives and on top of that, finances will now have to account for my child’s education. Sure, there will be frustrations, tears, disappointments but joy, new opportunities and hope await in the morning.
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