Let’s move across the world.

In the Summer of 2010, Tanja and I were enjoying our last day in Vancouver after traveling for 3 weeks through the Western US. During our road trip we had realized how unhappy we were about our lives as a lawyer and physiotherapist in Belgium. We knew we wanted change, just not how.

The next day we’d catch our flight to Belgium. I didn’t look forward to it. In the past weeks I’d experienced a different kind of me: uninhibited, adventurous and playful. I liked ‘vacation Jelger’. Unllike ‘work Jelger’ who was always serious, controlling and afraid. Whenever I’d go home after a vacation, part of me died, only to be revived on my next vacation.

While lounging on English Bay beach, we explored the idea of moving to Vancouver. And then it happened: I felt alive. A strange sensation of excitement took a hold of my body and a voice in my head screamed: “Yes, do it! Do it now!”

Tanja felt it too.

But we also felt hesitation. Worries. Fears. What about our family and friends? What about our cats? What about our careers in Belgium? More and more questions kept popping up. But none was as strong as “Do it!”

The first day of our new life.

Our last night, during the Celebration of Light fireworks, Tanja and I promised each other to quit our old lives in Belgium and move to Vancouver. We cried of joy and relief. It was the first day of our new life.


The next year would be a tough one. A year of overcoming administrative hurdles and riding an emotional roller coaster. We had to sell our two cars, all our furniture and say goodbye to family and friends. There were moments where I thought I couldn’t continue, because it was too hard. But time and time again, there was that voice, that gut feeling that said: “keep going, you’re on the right track”.

On October 7, 2011, Tanja and I stood on the sands of English Bay beach, staring at the ocean. It was the same spot where a year before, we had promised each other to return. Only now, we were landed immigrants in Canada.

I’ve learned to trust the voice of my gut. Blindly. I’ve learned that it’s the voice of ‘vacation Jelger’ that wants to enjoy life. Unlike the voice of my reason, it never betrays me. I’ve learned that it always tells me the best thing to do, and that it doesn’t get influenced by fear.

Trusting our gut has taught us to live life to the fullest.