Sometimes I do wonder, 'Who knows what's yet to come?'

Magali’s family fell apart when her second baby was born: “I’m trying to find a new balance in a life I wasn’t prepared for”

“When we first broke up, there were times I heard a car outside and thought, ‘Maybe he has come back to say he’s changed his mind.’ I kept hoping that he’d realise what he was throwing away. That’s the hardest part, the loss of my family. I’ve not just lost my partner and husband, but the entire base is gone. In the beginning, I found it hard to enjoy my alone time with the kids, because I preferred parenting together. But now I feel like, ‘Okay, I can do this alone too.’ And I know that V and I are better off apart. I’ve seen such an awful side of him. I guess it goes both ways – we’ve long forgotten who we were when we were happy together.”
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Evelien launched her own storytelling business, Optimiro.

Evelien went from a broken Olympic dream and a ruined trip around the world to building her business to freedom: “I’ve learned to turn tears into opportunities to grow”

“These past two years, I saw two dreams fall to pieces. When our long-awaited rugby qualifier game for the Olympics was ruined because of a decision of the trainers, I sat down and cried my heart out. But instead of continuing to wallow in self-pity, I decided to push the departure date of my world tour forward. It was the best decision ever: I made it out of Europe just in time before the pandemic hit hard. My dream was to travel around the world, an adventure that had been on my bucket list for a long time. It turned out 2020 wasn’t the best moment to do so… I got stuck in Australia and with my plans put on hold, I suddenly had time to reflect on the direction of my life. In the end, the setbacks I faced prove that I’ll find ways to turn a defeat into an opportunity.”
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Alicia is on a mission to share everything she's learned about motherhood

Alicia struggled with the emotions of a young mother, but consumed every bit of information out there: “Embracing all the changes make you feel better equipped”

“So many of us get caught up in choosing onesies or the colour of the baby room, but those things won’t help you after birth. Preparation will – that’s something a mother does for herself and benefits the baby too. I discovered the concept of ‘matrescence’, the transition from a woman to mother. For me, it felt like an identity crisis. I used to wear so many hats – ‘wife of’, ‘friend of’, ‘employee of’. All of a sudden, I was reduced to ‘mother of’, which was new, scary and at times uncomfortable. I couldn’t recognise my sporty, smart, supportive self anymore – she’d been replaced by an organic milk machine with greasy hair and painful hips. In the meantime, I’ve learned to embrace the change. The other versions of me haven’t died, they’re temporarily on hold.” 
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Veerle & Nicholas in front of the town hall of Seekonk, Massachusetts

Veerle saw her life transform within 6 months of moving to the US: “I make the most of every opportunity that crosses my path”

“It’s a warm, humid Wednesday afternoon in February. Nick and I are in a dense forest, part of a nature park in Florida. While we discuss the next steps of our business, I take in the countless shades of green and exotic palm trees surrounding us. Mere minutes ago, we ran into an alligator – which symbolises the life I’m currently leading: no day is ever the same. Even business meetings look nothing like the way they did before.”
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"I hope to get back into the theatre once I'm settled in my new job."

Chloe left Spain to rebuild her life in China: “I’m ready to return to Spain, but this time the focus is on myself”

“If I hadn’t got this job in Spain, I probably would have settled in Northern Ireland. But by now I’ve spent more of my life in Spain than in my home country, so moving back feels like the natural thing to do. If it doesn’t work out, I wouldn’t mind returning to China for another teaching contract. There are so many places on that side of the world that I’d still love to see. The fact I went out there with no teaching qualifications and finished a post-graduate certificate while working full-time, is what I’m most proud of. If there’s anything I’ve learned about myself these past couple of years, it’s that I have a lot of willpower. I don’t give up easily.”
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Magalie and her husband Thomas on their wedding day

Magalie found her cause when her son arrived: “I want to make an impact by raising awareness of the unfiltered realness of motherhood”

”This month, Marcus turned one – a crazy year that has pushed me beyond my limits, further than I could have imagined. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that motherhood isn’t hard because you’re doing it wrong – it’s just hard. It took me a while to understand and accept that it’s not me, nor Marcus or our situation. At the end of the day, I need to trust myself. I’m the one who put my son into the world and who knows what’s right for him better than anyone else. I think that’s the real journey to motherhood: arriving at the point where you realise you’re the one that knows best.” 
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Ann and Mike in Berlin

Ann moved to Berlin for love and re-evaluated her career: “When you make plans, you’re often pushed into a different direction – one that might be better than what you had in mind”

”Almost a year in, Berlin has come to feel like home. The street scene is extremely diverse: you see women with half-bald skulls or green hair going for a run, or 50-year-old men with mohawks cruising by on their Harley Davidson bikes… Nothing is too crazy or too wild. I appreciate the freedom of possibilities that reigns here; all Berliners can be themselves. Due to the pandemic and lockdowns, I haven’t missed out on much in Belgium. I do miss my family and friends, but we call each other often – more than before. I used to believe I had to attend every event in order for my friendships to be strong. I’ve let that go: I realise it’s not the quantity, but the quality that determines how intense or deep my connections are. Nowadays I’m more focused on my priorities – the people and things that are important to me – and trust that the rest follows in due course.”
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Marie got married and divorced within a year

Marie got married and divorced within a year: “It’s a mark of shame I continue to bear”

“I’m staring at the floor while running my fingers over the softly faded cotton sheets of the hotel bed. Nothing feels familiar in this strange room, in this strange town, in this strange country. “Maybe we shouldn’t do this.” My voice sounds hoarse. As soon as my words land, she stops rummaging through her suitcase and turns around. Her face reads surprise. “You can’t be serious!” She gets up from the floor and shakes her head fiercely. “My entire family is here already.” I sit in silence. Hours later, while wearing a white dress and a pale face, I look her in the eye. I take a deep breath and hear myself quietly say “I do”. When I leave the city hall with a new civil status and a tight wedding ring, I shake ten pairs of hands. None are those of my family or friends. My marriage certificate reads the name of an old Danish lady who lends her signature to people like me – who are on their own.”
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Karen settled down in Spain and launched a successful business

Karen settled down in Spain and launched a successful business: “Embracing risks has led me to where I want to be in life”

“Bright orange strokes fill up the sky as the sun slowly sets. I’m pouring myself a glass of sweet white wine when the phone rings. The excited faces of my sister and niece appear on my screen. I look at the stack of papers in front of me and put them aside. After the call, I’ll get back to prepping our business meeting to discuss a new franchise of our salad bar. My niece enthusiastically jabbers her head off about her day – and before we hang up, we count the days until her next visit. When I put the phone down, I remind myself how lucky I am to see the ocean, our balcony view, in a different light every day. I lean back in my seat and let the last rays of sunshine warm my face.”
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Griet had a baby on her own

Griet had a baby on her own: “Thanks to my support system, I hardly have the feeling I’m in this alone”

“I hold the envelope tight in my left hand as I look for the key to the front door. I reach for the door knob, my mind running a million miles a minute. As if I’m on autopilot, I take off my winter coat and shove my bag in the corner of the hallway. The cold winter air is replaced by cosy warmth when I settle myself into my usual spot on the couch. I take a deep breath and tear the envelope open. The word I’m looking for on the sheet of test results catches my eye immediately. It’s a boy… My body tingles. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve known that one day I’d have a son. His name would be Niels, after the famous children’s book Nils Holgersson. I might have no clue yet how I’m going to pull off motherhood – but my son and I are going to take on the world together.”
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