Impossible is Nothing – Five Ways I Have Personally Defied the Odds in Italy

“Well, that’s just impossible.”

How often have you heard your dear parents, your best friends or your kind colleagues say this when you were talking about your big, bold dream? Better question yet: how often have you heard yourself say this?

My heart sinks when I think of how many dreams have died because of people around us saying – or we, ourselves – thinking: “that’s practically impossible.”

It’s like a big massive STOP sign stopping our dreams in their tracks, a road block that makes it seem there is no other way than to retreat or a man hole that shouts that it will undoubtedly fail and you’ll never be able to come back up again.

But what if, like the famous street artist CLET you rethink the nos and turn them into yesses? What if you took a road sign telling you to stop and turned it into a piece of art, inspiring people to start instead? What if you cared less about the shoulds, about what you’re supposed to do or what is right, and you went your own way – defying all the odds and turning the impossible into this is actually possible?

clet florence

I felt inspired to share how I’ve done exactly this over and over again. I didn’t write this post to brag or to say that I’m better than anyone else. I just want to show you that nothing is impossible as long as you reframe it and look at the possibilities instead of the impossibilities.

These are a number the ways in which I have chosen to opt to believe in the possibly positive outcome of the crazy venture instead of listening to my – or other people’s – fears. These are ways in which I have personally defied the odds in Italy, chasing my own personal dreams and going against what most people would do. I have turned taking the leap into an art and if what I do inspires even one person to take an alternative road, to keep on going even though it seems hopeless and to trust that – just like Alice – you have to fall before you get to Wonderland, then I can die a happy woman.

This is how I’ve made the impossible possible and perosnally defied the odds in Italy.

I have overcome anxiety disorder by moving to Florence

In 2003 I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder and was taking antidepressants to function properly. There were days in which I didn’t dare leave the house and I had to stop my studies because it was all too much. I wrote more about this horrible experience in this post.

However hard this was, I’ve freed myself from it by turning my self-hate into self-love, listening to my true desires, leaving my steady relationship, my safe government teaching job and my three-bedroom terraced house in perfection paradise Holland following my big, fat, crazy dream of moving to Florence, Italy.

I did all of this never knowing if it would work out, I just could not not do it. My desire was stronger than the dread I felt and I decided to dive in headfirst. It’s been the best crazy choice I’ve ever made and because of it I have turned into the best version of myself. I got rid of the antidepressants a year after I got to Florence and I have flourished ever since.


I speak Italian like an Italian

When I came to Florence in 2010 I spoke some Italian because of a couple of courses I had done in Holland and thanks to the three month language assistantship I had done as my graduation project at a secondary school in Piombino. I knew how to have a simple conversation, but it ended there. When I started my Florentine adventure I worked as a secretary my language school half the day and studied Italian during the other half of the day.

I didn’t dare answer the phone in Italian at the beginning. I didn’t understand when they asked if I was able to finish the set tasks on time. I didn’t know how to find the right department at the post office for those important documents that had to be sent away before noon. I remember getting lost, looking at my paper map (no Google maps yet) and feeling responsible for the collapse of the school if I didn’t get those documents there on time.

I survived. And so did the school. I now speak so fluently that Italians often mistake me for a fellow countrywoman and are truly impressed when I share my little dirty secret of actually being Dutch.

It’s taken the willingness to make mistakes, to look like a fool and to say “scusa, non ho capito” over and over again. I cared – and still care – more about having a good command of the language than about being afraid to look like an idiot.

study Italian in Florence

This was me in my first week of school in 2010. Can you find the differences with the me I am now?

I am making a living in Italy

I initially started making an income in Italy by turning my next big dream of teaching English to Italians into my new reality. The interesting thing about my success of finding work in Florence was that all the language schools required their teachers to be native English speakers. Thanks to my degree in Teaching English as a Foreign Language, sounding like a Brit and being very resilient, I managed to get hired anyway even though I’m Dutch.

While I was at it and saw that there was – and still is – a huge demand for English teachers in Italy, I set up an online platform where English Teachers in Florence can connect and find job opportunities.

Besides teaching English I also fancied trying out interpreting at a cooking school even though I don’t know how to cook, nor have an interpreting degree. I also taught Dutch to small children even though I never knew how to deal with toddlers. I highly preferred teenagers being a secondary school English teacher.

I have done translation work, I occassionaly help Dutch people get around in Florence, I connect my clients to businesses looking for employees or freelancers, I have even been a real estate mediator… You name it and I’ve done it.

I’ve made it all happen because I never thought it was impossible. Also, I simply needed to make the money to survive in Italy and that was a strong motivator as well obviously. Creativity, curiosity and courage make for a perfect combination when it comes to trying out new challenges.

Tis-hier-fantasties-florence (5)

I even appeared on a Dutch TV show with Beau van Erven Dorens to share what life in Florence was like

I turned my passion for writing into my profession

At some point, as a hobby, I started writing about life as a Dutch woman in Florence and built my own blog Soflorence. I didn’t have any technical knowledge, but I figured out how to make WordPress work anyway and actually enjoyed creating my own website.

My blog was discovered and I got asked to write for one of the biggest Italy magazines in Holland. This was online initially but then it soon lead to my own paid column in the printed magazine itself. This happened even though I wasn’t a professional writer, nor had any formal writing experience.

This unique opportunity then landed me a job at the biggest blog on Italy Ciao tutti and allowed me to travel around Italy as a journalist, taking photos and writing about my adventures. Again, I have no degree in journalism nor did I ever follow a photography course. It was all published anyway and I got paid doing what I truly enjoyed. Pretty awesome.

Ciao tutti

Me with Ciao tutti’s founder Saskia Balmaekers at one of our many trips involving loads of wine tasting

I have set up own business in Italy

When I was ready for something new and dared to dream really big I realised I desired to do what I had seen myself doing at some point in life, but felt I was too young for at 29: become a life coach. I decided to break through that limiting belief as well and started out by going to Holland for two months to follow a course in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

When that was done I faced the scary challenge of training for my soul’s calling in my third language, going to Rome every other weekend to attend classes with the number one coach in Italy Giovanna Giuffredi and being the youngest of all the participants.

I did it though and then I went for the biggest leap of all: set up my own business in Italy. Everyone told me not to do since it was supposed to be impossible because of high taxes, bureaucracy, no one knowing what coaching is here and having to face a difficult market, and so on.

The reality is that I’m actually rocking out my coaching business pretty badly, contributing meaningfully, helping my clients find the courage to go for their own big, bold dreams and I’ve also been able to create a platform where they can connect, meet and support each other in the form of my group The YES Woman.

And I’m also making more money than I ever dared to dream. This is because I was dedicated to learning how to expand my coaching business by investing $ 10.000 to train with the number one business coach in the industry Gina DeVee. Thanks to her programme called the Divine Living Academy I have made massive personal changes and have been able to take my business to the next level.

I took this financial leap even though I didn’t know how to come up with the monthly instalments. But here I am: a transformed woman, with a thriving coaching business, making a big difference in the life of my clients and enjoying a high living standard in Italy.

Life coach Florence

So, impossible is nothing, as long as you set your mind to it and are willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen.

Now you tell me again: what is so impossible about your dream? Nothing really.

If you feel stuck, though and need help finding the courage to take your personal leap and get your life to the standards you desire, feel free to read all about my programme Take the Leap to Italy here and if it resonates, book a free discovery call and we’ll discuss how I can help you defy your own odds in Italy and create a life you have no regrets about – at all!

Love & courage,


The most beautiful photos: Christine Juette Photography 


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Hello! I came across your post and I am so inspired by it! I recently just took the leap to move to Florence and would love to be a part of your meet up. I am American and am committed to making thriving and fulfilling life here. I hope to hear from you!

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Dear Cassandra, so great to hear from you and welcome to Florence! Let’s make sure you’ll totally thrive here and feel completely fulfilled! Please, join my group The YES Woman here and come to one of the monthly meet ups :) Looking forward to meeting you in real life! XO Sophie

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