Almost five years ago, Bobby and I met a cat that would forever change our lives for the better. We didn’t know it at the time, and we didn’t even adopt her after that initial meeting. It took us almost three months after meeting her before we decided to bring Sophie home with us, and our lives have never been the same.
It’s true, sharing our lives with a cat with cerebellar hypoplasia has had it’s challenges. We’ve had to figure out ways that we can help Sophie and make things easier for her; we’ve suffered countless “heart attacks” watching her stumble and fall (sometimes head or face first); and we sometimes have to deal with the negative reactions towards her from other people. Once you fall into the routine of things though, once you establish a “new normal,” all of those “challenges” fade into the background, and you are left with a little being that is so full of love and life and joy that you’d have to be heartless not to be affected.
Not only has Sophie been a bright star in our lives since the day we adopted her, she has also taught both me and my husband so many life lessons over the course of the last several years. They are lessons that everyone could benefit from.
1. When you fall down, get back up and try again.
In life, we all face challenges and obstacles. Yes, we even fail sometimes. It is far too easy to give up when you stumble. The hard part about it all is learning to deal with those failures and to not let them keep you from pursuing your dreams and goals.
I can’t tell you how many times we’ve watched Sophie fall, slip, or wipe-out. Her lack of coordination and balance makes it hard for her to jump or even to walk and run sometimes. Doing things like getting up on the couch is a challenge for her. However, as many times as I’ve seen her fail, I’ve never seen her give up. She always gets right back up, shakes it off, and tries again with even more determination and enthusiasm than before. And it only makes her victory all the more sweet. 🙂
2. There is nothing you can’t do.
This ties back into #1 but is an important lesson nonetheless. Too often I hear people use excuse after excuse as to why they can’t do something. Or they let someone else discourage them from going after their dreams. You can’t let excuses or someone telling you you aren’t capable hold you back.
Sure, Sophie could use her cerebellar hypoplasia as an excuse to try to get us to do everything for her. In the past, we’ve even tried to limit what she could do for fear of her hurting herself. For example, we put a baby gate at the bottom of the stairs at our old house because we didn’t think she was capable of climbing them herself.
Has Sophie let her CH or us (or anyone) telling her she can’t do something stop her? NEVER! When she gets it in her head that she’s going to accomplish something, like climbing the stairs or getting up on the cat tree, she goes for it. Perhaps she doesn’t succeed on the first try, but she doesn’t give up, and she eventually accomplishes her goal. Now I know that there’s nothing Sophie can’t do. The same goes for YOU!
3. Embrace each other’s differences.
Everyone is different, including our pets. That’s what makes each person special and unique. Your differences are what make you “you.” I’ve always known and believed that, but living with Sophie has really driven that lesson home.
Every now and then Bobby and I joke about what Sophie would be like if she could walk a straight line; if she didn’t have cerebellar hypoplasia. We always come to the same conclusion: Sophie wouldn’t be Sophie if she wasn’t wobbly. She is a giant goofball, and her klutziness fits her. It is a part of who she is. Maybe it just seems that way because we don’t know her any other way, but I truly believe that Sophie’s CH enhances her personality.
Think about how much more loving and peaceful this world would be if we all embraced each other’s differences and viewed them as personality enhancements rather than picking each other apart and making fun of those differences.
4. Take time for yourself and relax.
My husband and I are both self-employed musicians, so we don’t have set work hours. We work at all hours of the day and night on different projects, jobs, gigs, rehearsals, you name it. It is really easy for us to get caught up in our work and never stop. Don’t get me wrong, we love what we do (most of the time), but it can be exhausting.
Sophie, on the other hand, is the epitome of rest and relaxation. Her two most favoritest things (besides her daddy) are snuggles and STICK (her favorite wand toy). Seriously… if snuggling were an Olympic sport, Sophie would take the gold.
Anyway, sometimes she will demand snuggles when we’re in the middle of working. And when I say “demand,” I mean she meows at the top of her lungs, paws at our legs, and climbs into our laps… even if we are ignoring her. This forces us to take a step back from work and to have some quiet, lovey time with her. Which we then realize we needed anyway. It is always good to take a step back from work and have a moment for yourself to get refreshed, to relax, and to snuggle your kitty 🙂
5. Love unconditionally.
Sophie has many talents, but one of her greatest ones, by far, is loving. That girl loves everyone and everything. Cat, dog, human, whatever. She doesn’t discriminate. And she loves hard, and with her whole heart too. Sophie also happens to be one of the happiest creatures I’ve ever known. Coincidence? I think not.
In a world where hate runs rampant, I know we can all learn a lesson or two about unconditional love. Think about how much happier we’d all be…