It all started with a breakdown. A moment in which I crossed my own boundaries and betrayed my partner of six years. It was a painful wakeup call which showed me the crystal clear truth: that I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t enjoying life anymore. I wasn’t really living. This moment of turmoil turned a separation into an opportunity; to get clear with myself and discover my truest desire.
I wanted to move to Florence, Italy.
I didn’t turn this life-changing decision into an overnight plan. It was a year of preparation, planning and saving; I was serious about this move and I wanted to go about it in the best way possible. I knew Florence had something in store for me. Now looking back, it was my very own Renaissance.
When I was in that long-term relationship I was also on anti-depressants for my anxiety disorder. I was trying to make life work in the best way possible, but it was hard. My worrying mind got into my way trying to make a relationship work that I actually, deep down knew I wasn’t fulfilled by. But it was as if stepping out of it wasn’t an option. That would’ve meant I had failed and had made the wrong decision when we’d started out years before. And so I ploughed on, until that moment I voluntarily turned an ice-bucket over my head – and my life; our life.
Something drastic had to happen to get me out of that stuck place and into a space of freedom where I could truly be myself. A place where I could listen to my own voice and hear what was true for me. Moving to Florence was an extended version of that sense of freedom. I felt I could really, fully breathe happiness for the first time in my life. It felt like absurd, unending bliss that was plastered across my face in a massive smile. I would bike around my new home town feeling so happy I could literally die. I still get that feeling from time to time, even after over seven years in.
What allowed me to tap into my truth, to live my happiness fully and to finally be myself was the blank creative canvas Florence provided me with. It’s like the façade of the Santo Spirit church: blank, welcoming, waiting to be coloured in.
Photo: Christine Juette Photography
I developed my language skills and became fluent in Italian, I discovered my business side and found I could do the most varying jobs from interpreting, to teaching, from writing to tour guiding; whatever I enjoyed and would help me survive in Florence I would take on. I made new friends and could be my new self without them knowing my background; I could start afresh and really reinvent myself.
And what better place to do so than in Florence; the city of the Renaissance? Being surrounded by beauty turns you into a more beautiful person. Being surrounded by warm people turns you into a warmer person. Being able to express yourself freely, gestures and all, turns you into a more expressive person.
I’ve been able to connect with parts of myself that I wouldn’t have been able to connect with so easily in my home country The Netherlands. I find Italians are closer to the core of humanness with their passionate, loving, expressive natures. Those were the exact parts that were dying to come out of me as well. No wonder I could stop taking antidepressants a year into my adventure. Florence had fulfilled me, she still fulfils me until this day. And even though I thought I had developed into the fullest version of myself, my new partner shows me that there are so many more layers to discover.
Another rebirth, another discovery, another moment of the caterpillar turning into the butterfly.
I can’t wait to see what my life will look like in a year from now. But for now, I’ll just continue flourishing in the soil that is just perfect for that: Florence.
Love & courage,
Would you like to move to Florence as well and live your very own Renaissance, away from it all giving yourself this blank slate to turn your life into a masterpiece? Then my programme Take the Leap to Florence might be of interest to you. It helps you find all the tools, practical tips and tricks to turn your long-nurtured dream of moving to Florence into reality.
If you already live in Florence, but have been having troubling flourishing in the career, relationship or life-in-general area, then my programme Flourish in Florence might be more your cup of tea. It’s coaching, consulting and access to my network and connections to turn your life in Florence into what you had imagined it to be, instead of it turning into a nightmare and you having to move back to where you came from. Let’s make you flourish in Florence bella! Contact me to hear more about it.