Change your life ~ Jacquie Gauthier did!

Recently in my newsletter, author Jacquie Gauthier3a3784b2-4b9a-4cf7-b8a5-436813b3168c offered two copies of her memoir, The Gift of an Elephant, in our giveaway. I’m delighted to have her stop by the blog today to chat with us.

Jacquie is a Canadian now living in South Africa and she has a most interesting story to share. Like Kat, in The Promise of Provence, Jacquie had a major mid-life transition that took courage.

She’s a great example of how to be a possibilitarian and you know how I feel about that!

PS ~ I love how our lives first connected through friends we have in common in Canada! Please share a bit of the story of how you took a chance and completely changed your life to make your home in South Africa.

JG ~ I have always thought of myself as a true romantic, but I even surprised myself when Johann and I eloped! We met in January of 2010 in South Sudan. Johann, a South African paramedic was there on a U. N. contract locating the landmines that had been laid in the region during all the years of conflict there. I was visiting as part of the team from Canadian Aid for South Sudan. We only saw each other a total of four times, but we both knew we had made a very special connection. After 6 months of constant conversation via email, we needed to know if it was love, so I went to visit him in South Africa. On the fourth day of my visit, we were married in an intimate African ceremony in the bush!
Tanda safari (2) - Copy

PS ~ Of course, your memoir, The Gift of an Elephant, explains your journey in great detail. What prompted you to write a memoir? Had you ever written a book in the past?

JG ~ Almost every time someone heard our story, they would exclaim “Wow- you should write a book!” After getting that response so often, it occurred to me that maybe I had something of value to share.  Our story seemed to resonate with so many people !

Often they expressed that they were feeling “stuck” in their lives, especially at a certain age when they felt that it was too late to risk or to change. I hoped that sharing our experience would show others that it’s never to late to create the life you want. If you can hear the call of something more and take a leap of faith, your life can change in ways you never could have imagined. 
PS ~  Is there any one lesson in particular about writing that you learned from the experience?
JG ~ Write from the heart.Be honest and share your truth. Ignore your internal editor and try not to judge what you are writing- there’s plenty of time to do that later.
PS ~ Do you have another book planned?
0c11d35e-8124-4740-9f3a-0700a02b7cfdJG ~ I have just started working on the sequel, tentatively titled ” Twenty-eight Elephants and Other Every Day Miracles”. The story I tell in The Gift of an Elephant ended over three years ago, and so much has happened since. I’ve learned a lot about myself, and about life. Probably the most important thing I have learned is that the only thing I ever have to change is my mind. I am happier now than I have ever been, and if  telling my story can in some small way inspire some one else to find their happiness, I want to do that.
PS ~ Two Girls and An Elephant is an amazing undertaking that began as a result of your new life in South Africa. I love the tagline on the website, “African art with attitude“. Please tell us about it.
JG ~ This new life has brought many gifts and one of the greatest has been the freedom and the inspiration to explore my creativity. Almost three years ago I had the idea of combining photography with fine art on elephant dung paper!  My friend Alicia Fordyce is a beyond gifted self-taught artist. I approached her with the idea, and now we are Two Girls and an Elephant; photographer, painter and paper maker. 
Last year we had successful exhibitions in Canada and Switzerland.  We are now focusing on selling prints of our originals as well as greeting cards and bookmarks. We are hoping to raise funds and awareness for elephant conservation by donating 10% of the price of these items to Elephants Alive South Africa.
2 Girls and a Leopard - Copy

PS ~ I love following your photography on Instagram (@Jaxisclever) and seeing your FB posts about the wildlife that is part of your new world. What is your involvement with that?

JG ~ I want to share the love and appreciation I feel for all of these animals with as many people as I can because Africa needs the help of the entire world to protect them!

Living where we do, at the gateway to Kruger National Park, almost every day we see the tragedy that is animal poaching. There are two ways to stop this practice- through education and economics. Teach people that ivory is not a status symbol, and that rhino horn is not medicine; and we  need to boost the South African economy with a  thriving tourist industry that will provide jobs and lift people out of poverty.
I try to be involved in any way I can, by volunteering in and supporting community projects, fundraising for conservation and encouraging people to come and visit these majestic animals in their glorious natural habitat. 
I’m also currently spearheading a Parliamentary petition that will ban the importation of hunting trophies in to Canada. I have to say I was absolutely stunned to learn that it is still legal to import ivory and lion skins into Canada! We can change attitudes and stop the slaughter of elephants and rhinos and other vulnerable species, but we have to do it now.

PS ~ Would you say writing, photography or painting is your greatest love?

JG ~ That is a difficult question! Writing was my first love. I am at my absolute happiest when I am out on a game drive taking photos, but then I get really excited at the prospect of turning those photos in to art pieces. I love playing with multiple images and creating modern art- or as we call it, African Art with Attitude. I am an absolute beginner when it comes to painting- that is definitely Alicia’s department. But I am excited about learning.  And I recently had the privilege of working with respected Canadian artist Hendrikus Bervoets, the founder of Art for Aids International. We have done a series of collages using my photographs and they turned out beautifully!

PS ~ What can we eagerly anticipate from you in the near future?
JG ~ I will be coming back to Canada in May for a few events; May 12 I am returning to my home town of Penetanguishene and Midland, where I started my radio career. I am the guest for ” A Day in the Life” an interview series at the Midland Cultural Center. I’ll be there along with my books and some of our art.
Then May 15th we are hosting an event called” Music, Art and Africa” in Port Stanley Ontario which will feature the music of Denise Pelley, the Art of Two Girls and an Elephant and our friend Nicola Coady (a fellow Canadian now living in South Africa) Proceeds from the event will support the art and music camp in South Sudan, a project of Canadian Aid for South Sudan.  It’s wonderful to see all my passions dancing together to raise money for causes I am passionate about!
For more information about Two Girls and An Elephant, click here. 
Click here to visit Jacquie’s Amazon Author Page.
Stop by and say hello to Jacquie on Facebook.
About Patricia Sands

Family, writing and travel are my passions ... okay, and chocolate ... and I'm seldom without a camera. I write women's fiction and keep in touch with readers by a monthly newsletter that also has giveaways and contests. Come and join us by signing up on the right. See you there!


  1. Lin Powell says

    I also met my husband in South Africa. I was a Canadian travelling with a friend, my husband was Welsh, working in Johannesburg. We met at a party and saw each other every day after that. We married after 5 1/2 weeks, visited Wales on our way to make our home in Western Canada. Perhaps it is the mystic of South Africa that makes it a place for love. I will have to read Jacquie’s book.

    • Patricia Sands says

      Another good story, Lin! Thanks for sharing it. I like the idea of the mystic of South Africa. 🙂

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