We are all part of something that is so much greater than ourselves, and when truly realising this, your focus changes and you start to see how amazing this world really is! We are all an important piece of a greater puzzle – the puzzle that we call LIFE.
When booking my trip to South Africa in 2011, all I was expecting was a two week volunteering experience. In hindsight I see that I was destined to make that exact choice, and that I was guided all along – to be right where I am supposed to be. I truly believe there is no coincident that I chose that particular volunteer project where I came to meet Lizaene and the astonishing white lion Acinonyx, who sprinkled me with stardust and started the change of my journey. That was all that was needed to sweep me off my feet and realise that it was more out there for me to discover, and for me to find my true purpose in this life. So many people have asked me questions about if I was scared to make the choice, how I dared to leave everyone and everything I knew, and how I dared to quit my job, take up a big loan and start Panthera Africa! And the answers were always that I felt it so natural and actually easy choices to make – and for me not really choices but rather following a deep feeling in my heart with the knowing of doing the right thing. Sitting here four years later writing this blog, I deeply feel that Lizaene and I have been guided and protected by the animals in our choices and we are truly meant to do this. I see around me and I understand that I am exceptionally blessed to have found that thing that makes my heart sing, and I am grateful to have had the courage and power within to follow the signs along the way.
At a time during the set up face of Panthera Africa, I found myself in a very difficult place where I didn’t know where and what I should do. The struggles and hurdles seemed too big to overcome, and I was finding myself doubting if this was all worth it. One day I picked up a book called The Purpose Driven Life that Lizaene’s dad lent me, and after a couple of chapters I suddenly stopped after reading some words that made everything fall into place, and where I found strength again. It said something along the line of that we all wonder about and seek the true meaning of our lives, and the questions seems to always focus on what I want and what I need, and so the book turned it around, saying that we are all part of something greater, and that we are all playing a vital part in the grand scheme of things. So along the way YOU might not always be happy and you find yourself in struggles that seem too difficult, but this is all part of a higher purpose and lessons and learning curves we go through in life. We might not always understand why things happen or don’t happen, but that is ok too. So instead of focusing on all the things that was hard and keeping my focus narrow, I found myself suddenly asking; how and where do I fit into the greater picture? How can I make a difference for others and the greater good? I have still not finished the book, but for me this was all I needed to hear in order to shift my focus and hang in there – because I KNEW inside that I was on a right path, and that what Lizaene and I was a part of, was not just for us, but for the greater good of animals and to contribute to raise the level of human consciousness.
Looking back now, the puzzles came together when they were meant to, and getting the permits when we did, and meeting the right people when we did, and everyone around us during the last years have all played their part – whether it is physically, personally, emotionally, financially – in any way, people have made this journey possible, and we are where we are today thanks to a lot of people out there. So please feel our gratitude and appreciation, and I hope you feel in your hearts that you have also played a vital role in the journey of Panthera Africa – whether for an hour, a month, a year or four years as the case is for Lizaene and myself <3 We are all important and can all make a difference – we all have a greater purpose!
When talking about purpose, I also want you to think about your purpose and your actions. Do you do things based on your own wants and wishes, or do you managed to look at a situation or an action from another people’s point of view? And being a lion and animal hearted lady I ask every person involved with animals to ask yourselves – do you do what you do for the best interest of the animal or do you do what you do for the best interest of yourself? Many of you know that my heart and soul were captured when I came in contact with the lions and leopards, and I strongly believe that Lizaene and I were chosen to do this and to play a role in the journey of these animals. We have, through many heart aches and experiences, learned many lessons, and I believe that it’s time for all of us to dear to be honest with ourselves and ask the difficult questions. Whether you are a tourist, a volunteer or a breeder– who are you doing it for? Do your actions make your heart truly happy? Are your actions part of something good? Do you believe that it is in the best interest of cubs to be taken away from their mother when she is fully capable to do it herself? Do you believe it is in the best interest for an animal to be petted by hundreds of people every week? Have you thought about what happens to the animal after you have left it or sold it further? Do you as a volunteer think that the animal you fell in love with also fell in love with you, and that it is left heartbroken not understanding why you left? Try and put yourself in the animals’ “shoes” and truly feel how YOU would have felt in their situation when reflecting on these questions.
I know I awaken a lot of emotions by righting this and asking these questions, but I believe we must be able to raise these questions and dear to ask them. We are here for each other right? And by not asking these questions, who are we actually protecting? Should the questions be too difficult to answer or create a lot of strong emotions inside, we have to ask ourselves why, and if it might be time to change our actions so we can answer all these questions with a positive heart <3
Dear to do the right thing, and I promise you – it feels amazing to do so! Dear to stand up for what you believe is right. Speak the truth. If you have done something wrong, dear to admit it. We all make mistakes – and we all can learn and move on from them! We are all part of a great network, and have entered the same web to be part of each other’s journeys. The right people find their way to enter your life at the right time, and if the road is rocky, well then just keep on overcoming the hurdles – the plains and beautiful road awaits you <3
When a little voice inside draws you towards something or you get an idea in your head that seems a bit crazy at the time – dare to follow that thought or feeling and see where it takes you! One day over three years ago after having spent time with the lions, suddenly a voice inside my head told me a crazy thought, and you know what it was? “One day you and Lizaene are going to open a sanctuary!” I was completely surprised as at the time I was just a visiting volunteer, and Lizaene and I were just friends! The thought kinda stuck with me – and I am smiling here I am sat of that thought now being my reality and purpose in life! Where do your dreams and thoughts take you? All I can say is that dare to follow it and I promise you will end up in places you never even dreamt of <3 I know I have already, and I am so excited about the journey ahead, and I hope you are too!!
With love and light, Cathrine – AKA Cat <3