Life happens.

Hey world… so it’s only been a few (cough) months. What happened? Well… life happened. Family and close friends know the gist of things, but for those of you missing out I’ll give you a brief summary of the past half a year. My mom was diagnosed with cancer just prior to me leaving for Namibia, and she made me promise up and down that I would not change my plans and that I would still leave and follow my dreams of living in Africa. It was still extremely difficult, she actually underwent surgery to try to remove the tumor while I was flying from the US to London to South Africa, and finally to Namibia. Unfortunately, it was not possible for them to remove all of the tumor. After talking with my sister and my aunt in November, I had come to the harsh realization that this upcoming Christmas very might be the last one I get to share with my mom. My Aunt Sandy as my Christmas gift, bought me a ticket to visit for the holiday and gave me the most wonderful gift of being able to spend Christmas with mom and my family. Hearing about everything going on from across the world is one thing, but actually seeing it is completely different. When I returned back to Namibia in January, I was just not able to focus on what was happening around me, my heart was still back in Poolesville. Mom contacted me to let me know that she would be starting hospice care soon and that finalized what my heart had been telling me. I chose to leave CCF and Namibia at the beginning of February and come home to spend what time I could with my mom and help out around the house as needed. Leaving Africa was so hard, but I knew that I would be back and I knew that the place I needed to be was home.

It was 110% the right decision, I am so extremely grateful to have been able to spend those 2 ½ months with my mom, and nothing can ever take that away. Mom passed away on 13th of April surrounded by her family and loved ones. Losing a parent is the most difficult thing I have ever experienced. My mom was the greatest superhero that I have ever met. I miss her every single day. I am comforted to know that she is always with me, and always will be.

Okay. Deep breaths.

The week after mom’s funeral I received super exciting news. I had been chosen out of 115 applicants to interview for a research assistant position at Panthera!! Quickly, go google Panthera. And no Matt, not Pantera. But go check them out. I’ll wait.

This is the big leagues for cat conservation!! This is THE dream. My interview took place over Skype at 2am my time, because… oh yeah, I forgot to mention – this position is located in Cape Town, South Africa! Despite being 2am, I thought the interview went really well. And it did! After a week which had felt like all eternity, I heard back from my interviewer, Dr Ross Pitman. They wanted to offer me the position!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (x100 !)

Next thing I knew, and with a little feeling of deja vu, I was planning to move to Africa within a three-week time span. Cape Town, is a major city and very different than living in the bush in Namibia, so Diesel will be joining me on this adventure! Unfortunately, there is a whole lotta paper work involved in importing a dog from the US to South Africa which takes some time. While I am currently writing you from a very lovely Air BnB in Cape Town, Diesel is still in Maryland. Once all his paperwork goes through and I can find someone willing to come out and visit me that doesn’t mind traveling with a dog (any takers?), he will be joining me!

Cape Town.

I arrived very late last night, so I am still more or less just recovering from jetlag and trying to orient myself a bit. The hosts that I am staying with, Jeanne-Marie, Wicus, and their chocolate lab Moscow, are so incredible friendly and have helped make the whole process a million times easier (and with a smile)! Cape Town looks incredible, I live just down the road from Table Mountain, then again most of Cape Town does. I am about 10 minutes from the beach, and less than 3 km away from my office at UCT. Perfect! 🙂 I walked down to the main road this morning and did a little grocery shopping, but apparently the rains have followed me from the US and a big storm is coming in. And that is why I am currently sitting at my computer instead of out and about exploring. But, everyone is very grateful for the rain since Cape Town is currently in the worst drought in over 100 years!

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Meet Moscow.

Jeanne-Marie and Wicus are taking me out exploring tomorrow and then I start work on Monday. So I should have some new things to write about very soon!

Until then, cheers!

4 December, mark your calendars

I have said this before and I will say it again. Not-typical is very typical in the day-to-day life here at CCF. You can plan every minute of your day out first thing in the morning and the next thing you know a wild cheetah (who was being tracked by another organisation) is being brought in to our veterinary clinic because he suffered wounds from a confrontation with a leopard and your whole day then must shift around. But at least that adventure was pretty dang exciting! He had one good paw swipe that needed cleaned out and stitched up, but hopefully he’ll be back on his feet and be able to be released in no time.

Currently, we are gearing up to celebrate International Cheetah Day, which is this coming Sunday, the 4th of December. We are hosting a free day out our Centre. I have been working extensively with Nadja to plan fun activities throughout the day. I might even get roped into painting faces for half the day. We’re going to be offering our Centre Feeding educational talk and feeding of the centre cats for free too.

If Namibia might be a little far for you to come visit, don’t worry, there are many ways you can celebrate International Cheetah Day right there, in your your home town! You can check out http://internationalcheetahday.com/events/ to see International Cheetah Day events all over the world and find out which one is closer to you!

Or you can participate virtually by joining the conversation on social media by using hashtags #SaveTheCheetah #IntlCheetahDay or by swapping your online social media profile photo for a cheetah! You can also visit http://internationalcheetahday.com for more ideas, print outs, Facebook cover photos, and more!

Or just go with the first option and hop on the next flight to Namibia and come visit me here!

Okay there was a lot of shameless plugs in this entry, but I am also blogging for the CCF website soooo I might have taken the lazy way out and cut and pasted bits and pieces from my blog for the website. Once my blogs start getting posted regularly, I’ll post links to them – although there is a good chance there will be regular cross-overs from that blog to this one.

 

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Photo creds: Cameron Murrin

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving!

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I cannot even think where to start for what I am thankful for this year – there is so much!

This year has truly been a year of change for me, and in a HUGE way. I mean I did pack up my entire life and move half way across the world to Namibia after all. I have been talking about living in Africa and working on cat conservation for as long as I can remember, so I am definitely very, very thankful to have this opportunity to follow through with my lifelong dreams. Seriously, how many people can say that they actually do exactly what they said they were going to do when they were a kid and saying what they wanted to be when they grow up? I’m doing it. I am here.

And I could not be living my dreams if it wasn’t for the fact that I have the most incredible and supportive family in the whole entire world! Things are on the tough side right now back home, and still when I was given this opportunity, without any hesitation they told me to go and do it. That we would make this work. Their love and support keeps me pushing on the days when I am feeling homesick or overwhelmed. They will forever by my biggest fans and my biggest supporters. My sister, Erin, took over the care of Diesel and is giving him such a loving and wonderful home since he could not make the journey with me. I am so thankful to my mom, my dad, both of my sisters, my nephew, my brother-in-law and to all of my family! I am truly, truly blessed and I love you all with my whole heart!!

I am thankful to my friends that I have left behind in the States who chat with me all the time over Facebook to keep me posted with how the animals at my zoo are doing and what’s going on in all of their lives as well. And especially to Becca and Andy who have taken in Optimus Prime as part of their family and give him all the love (and treats hehe) that they possibly could. And I am thankful for my CCF Family, and all of my friends here. Not only do we work together in high stress situations on a daily basis, but we also all live relatively close to each other, eat all of our meals at one big table together, and all of our after-work socializing is with each other. And somehow, we manage to not hate each other! That’s how you know that you are surrounded by good people!

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To my sponsors, FitCRUNCH and BB Custom Suits who continue to support me and my bodybuilding goals even though I am wayyyyy outside of their selling market ranges.

Wow, I have quite the support system, don’t I? I really am lucky!!

Oh and I am also very thankful for technology! How else would you reading this right? When our WiFi is cooperating I am able to video chat with Nick on a daily basis, talk to my family all the time, and stay as connected to the outside world as I chose to (which sometimes is not at all).

You’re probably getting annoyed of all the mushy-gushy stuff by now. So go eat and enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner. We had a nice little lamb potjie at Nadja’s tonight around a fire and everyone shared what they were thankful for. And then we passed around a huge scorpion in a jar that she had caught in her dogs’ bed before everyone got there, because you know, TIA. (Don’t worry, we released him unharmed afterwards). It was really nice.

Goodnight! Xoxo