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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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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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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Pascaline lives in her camper van full-time

Pascaline packed her bags, hit the road and lives minimalistically in her camper van: “I take every day as it comes”

“He lifts the cap off the Leffe Royale and each in turn, we take a sip. We sit in silence. I stare into the distance and spot a few wild moose. A few days ago, I asked Ben to stop for a picture of the first one we came across – by now I’ve lost count of how many we’ve passed. My legs feel tense and my feet sore. The 8 kilometer walk that led us here guided us along streams and rocks and through rough nature. I can’t find the right words to describe what’s in front of me, but I’ll forever hold this moment dear. I never dreamed of this place, but here I am: the North Cape. Added to our itinerary by mere coincidence, but serving as a kind note to self: the places that have impressed and surprised me the most, were never the ones on my bucket list.”
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