The Beginning

I always had a strong desire to travel and explore the world. I have had an around the world trip- dream shared with my best friend from the age of 16..When I was 23, it occured to me time had come to give in to my wanderlust. By the time I was so sick and tired of doing what I was supposed to do.
All my life I did exactly what I had to do. Not only our parents, family and friends but even our society make it very clear that there is a certain path for everyone to follow. Things you have to do in life in order to be a ‘normal’ and good person.

The plan is usually play untill your Wow,.. a whole 3 years old….
Then go to kindergarden followed by elementary school, and after that 6 years of high school.
If you got good grades untill now, you normally stick to what is ‘silently’ planned out for you… An almost non discussable choice… university or further studies. You have to choose between several topics with a really wide range. Not easy to decide whatever you want to commit to for the rest of your life at the age of 18 .

So under this unspoken pressure.. I did my best for good grades and good behaviour. I finished university whitin my time and kept my travel dreams to myself a little longer..

I felt like I had to wait until I had accomplished something in life. Because even though everyone pretends it’s not really there.. we are all under constant pressure to do what is right.. to follow the plan you are supposed to follow..

After 4,5 years of Uni.. the end was nearby so I finally started to plan my trip.
As I learned that an around the world trip would not be possible starting off without any money. I thought I’d better stick to just one continent at a time.

I litteraly chose the one the furtest away from home because I wanted to be drowning in a new culture.. I always had a thing for New zealand… (I think I have the lord of the rings trilogy to thank for that)
So that was the plan.. It occured to me that I would also have to work if I wanted to spend a couple of months overseas..

Also I really wanted the whole experience.. because as a traveller you often only see the most attractive and touristy sites of a country… I figured the best way to really soak up the culture was to actually live with people from whitin the country. Learn about their values and their habits.
I thought to myself why not help out a local family with whatever they need. The idea of being an aupair naturally evolved from that…

As I searched for families New Zealand didn’t really offer a lot of families I could see my self fit in with…
I started broadening my range and included Australia wich was also really high on my wishlist and not too far from NZ.

I contacted a few families but my eye fell in particular on 1 young bubbly couple.
She was French and he was Australian… their profile matched pretty good with what I was searching for so I contacted them and really hoped for a positive respond.
After a couple emails.. we both felt like this was it and after a skype-session we made it final.
Andrew Hay and Gaetane Potard were to be my future Down under family!

I started to get all the paperwork done.. visum,international drivers liscence, insurance, flights,…

And as I was getting more and more excited I finally recieved the long expected email and soon to be skype session with baby Anaïs who was born on july 29 th.

October 28th I had to say goobye to my dear family and friends.
It was pretty damn hard but as soon as I was on the plane I had peace with it knowing I would return in 4 months. Only up until that moment it felt real.
Slowly it occured to me that my very great grand adventure had started.

Berlin

Berlin 12/8/16-14/8/16

Berlin, it was love at first sight! It is such a facinating city with a milion things to discover! Therefore I would like to share some of the best sights, restaurants and bars I visited during my trip, to possibly guide or inspire those who are planning to do the same thing.

One of my favourite scenery’s looking back was definitely RAW Gelände! It is about a 5 minute walk from Warschauwer Strasse Station.

By the time we were there, people were just getting of work and it was still rather empty so we had everything to ourselves to explore. We strolled around the crafty area’s of different sheds all with an other purpose. RAW(Reichsbahn-Ausbesserungs werk’) used to be an industrial complex for maintancence and repair of railways systems and trains. This came to an end after the Berlin wall came down. It became a living and working comunity of sociocultural creatives, where nowadays you can find a very interesting scenery that contains bars and clubs, an indoor skate park and also a kind of hidden wall climbing hall. At the end there is this big field where on saturdays an sundays a huge antique market takes place.

It even harbours a swimming pool. It is the perfect urban hide out! You find lot’s of creativity there. Its like a complex of craftmenship and creativity…it combines work, play and a chilled out lifestyle.

After exploring all of this we ended up at this outdoor garden place wich was turned into a bar. It was next to a Pop up art gallery.

We were very keen for some drinks and so while we enjoyd half a liter of German beer there was a band setting up. We were sure we did not want to see Berlin in a rush and even though this would be the only thing we had visited in a day we still decided to stay for the evening. We experienced a lovely concert of a 5 headed band. It was al so random that it was perfect.

Next on your must-do list would be Tempelhof…We had the most lovely day in this former airport that now takes place as a huge park. You can rent a bike, inlineskates, go carts, segways and a bunch of other stuff to explore the area.
As we biked along the old landing way we came across a huge parkside where people were having a lovely barbecue afternoon and were just hanging out with drinks and food and more importantly each other.They were having a blast! Children could play freely and parents could socialize. It is just amazing how this former airport gets a new destination. You can also visit the building itself and do a guided tour. The rest of the building is now used to set up refugee camps.

For drinks I would reccomend “klunkerkranich” wich is a very cool rooftop bar, situated on top of Neukölln arcade wich is a shopping mall. This hidden rooftop bar is spread out over the 2 upper levels of a parking lot. You have an absolutely stunning view over the city and its just amazing to hang out when the weather is nice! It is ideal to spend a sunny afternoon or watch the sunset in the evening over a beer. Sometimes they play live music. So priceless view, friendly staff, lovely food and beverages and a great urban, chill and easy going vibe… in other words, Berlin as it should be!
Karl-Marx-Str. 62,12043 Berlin Germany

If you enjoy a smaller more quiet bar to enjoy your beverages, Roamers is the place to be This is such a lovely bar, we absolutely adored it. The interior is exactly how we like it to be. Lot’s of wood and sustaining rustic materials and more importantly lots of greenery! We had self made lemonades but we dfenitely will go back for breakfast or cacke because they looked delicious! Their plants were so nice. They even sell some of their stuff and occasionally do a pop up succlent sale.

For food we loved Neni, a restaurant situated on top of the 25 hours hotel, it has a lovely view over West Berlin and the Zoo. On the menu you will find maroccan quisine but also turkish,spanish,israelic and perzian dishes and influences are combined in their platters. Next to Neni is a supernice cocktailbar which is called the monkey bar. Their motto and also their banner is ‘life is beautiful’ and when you are here, it really is 😉
Budapester strasse 40, charlottenburg U9 zoologischer garten

For Tourist attractions I have to admit I only went to see the holocaust memorial wich is close to brandenburger Tor.
I had seen a dozen of pictures of people on the holocaust bricks so I secretly wanted one for myself aswell. That been done, after an hour we took a subway to Kreuzberg, to wander around the streets again. We passed the “burgemeister” wich is very popular for its hamburgers apparently and smelled very very tempting. We were searching for a bar called…. Unfortunately it was closed but apparently this streat was full of lovely bars and restaurants. We chose the cutest one and had the most amazing mojito’s and nacho’s with cheese and guacamole and also bruscetta’s. The owner was so enthousiastic and prepared our cocktails with so much love, you could taste it…

kafeesatz wrangelstrasse 43 10997 Berlin

After this amazing stop it was unfortunatly time to return to the airport to head back to Belgium.

It is always dreadful to come back after a lovely trip. But this one makes me wonder about all the fascinating places yet to discover. Berlin has such a political and sociocultural history yet to explore! I enjoyed everything Berlin gave us so far, and I will definetly be back!

Love Sofie

Elizabeth Vanlessen – Le Goz eau

An Ode to doing what you love ( Elisabeth/Le goz eau)
Throughout certain experiences in life I came to dream of doing what I love. I finished my studies successfully and I have a good job as a physiotherapist. But I found myself often wondering… is this it? Did I make the right choice when I was an 18 year old kid? Did I know back then what to commit to for the rest of my life? Surely I did not. Only few of us are gifted with the knowledge of knowing what your professional life will be like from early age on. I asked myself, is it wrong that I wonder about new professional challenges? I caught myself often wondering that I actually have a wonderful job. But yet I felt like it was not complete. To know if this was my dream job? I had to think thoroughly about what do I dream of exactly? Lots of people wonder about this I am sure, but only few explore all the possibilities. Many of us will comfortably accept that our job is just something we have to do in our lives even if it isn’t always that fulfilling, they are happy to settle with it as long as they earn enough money to just make a living. And if you are happy with that thought, you are blessed. But I know for sure many of you don’t feel that way deep down because our job is what takes up almost ¾ th of our time. Why not make the most out of something that is consuming most of our time on this globe. A lot of people will learn this the hard way, that’s why ‘burn out’ became the most popular term of the century. By the time you are ‘burned out’ you might have lost your passion completely! Although it is never really to late, you would be better of reconsidering whatever it is you are doing and more importantly what it is you dream about right now! We should not settle if we are not 100% happy. We should always strive to be as passionate and happy as possible in whatever it is we do!
It is not an easy road to go down to but I was so very lucky to have met someone that is extraordinarily skilled to help you along the way. This is why sharing this story with all of you is important to me. Elisabeth Vanlessen is a work and life coach. She and her husband Kurt Driesen own a beautiful and relaxing private spa complex called le Goz’eau (highly recommended)! Next to that she commits to helping others in getting back on track or to just find a way to optimize your current one. She helps you find a job that challenges you to unlock your passion. To regain a motivating lifestyle for yourself and your loved ones around you. She is a warm, empathic and enthusiastic person, with outstanding listening skills! She helps you to listen to your inner self and she makes you reflect about things that make you come to understand what it actually is you really want in life! She helped me in searching for some of my best capacities but more importantly she pointed out my weak ones as well and how to work on them. Thats how she puts together a personal development plan which might sound a bit boring at first sight but is so very interesting to do. Things fell into place and I had a better view on what It was I wanted in life! What my goals were exactly and how to get them done. She doesn’t literally tell you what it is that you should do for a living but you do some valuable exercises together and it makes you see all that lies within your possibilities.
I always went to our sessions with a lot of diligence even though my job changes had already been made at the time. It meant a great deal to me going to our meetings and I would advise it to every one! I always came out with a ton of positive energy ready to go out there and face whatever problems I had. Even when I felt like everything went wrong ,she pulled me through and turned the situation
around. I will remind all that she said to me and will think of her advice many more times in the future.
I would recommend it to everyone even if you are happy in your current job just to realize what lies within your possibilities and to point out other dreams that you have deep down. It’s a good exercise for everyone to reveal what your inner child really tells you.
I am sure she is like no other life coach. And that is because she is so passionate about helping other people finding their true means!

Lore Langendries

I met Lore a couple of years ago. She was friends with my niece and we went to see her graduation collection in Eindhoven. That was the first collection of Lore I got to know. Back then I already loved her creations! When I had to interview a jewellery designer for my 1st year goldsmith course I started with my mum this year, Lore immediately crossed my mind. I didn’t even look further because I really wanted to hear how she had been doing and what kept her busy at the moment. After googling a bit I figured she would be in over her head with projects and interviews. But I could always ask and so I did. She immediately agreed to talk to us. Although she was very busy, she invited us for coffee and conversation in her lovely apartment in Hasselt. She was so friendly and open about everything we asked! I was impressed with the way she was handling life as an artist.

Throughout the conversation it became clear that she is so much more than just a jewellery designer! Lore Langendries is a vibrant, bubbly and extremely creative young women who was born and raised in Zonhoven (°1988) Currently she is based in Hasselt, capital of Limburg and known as the city of taste. After finishing her PHD in 2015 at KU Leuven, U Hasselt & Mad faculty, she can now call herself Doctor in arts. She lives to create and design and sees herself as a maker of all kinds..

High school years were trembling for Lore. She was a very promising basketball player in her youth and her upcoming talent led her to an Athlete school of Sports in Antwerp. Unfortunately injuries kept her from making it through so she returned to Zonhoven and finished up high school there. After this she initially wanted to study fashion in Maastricht but that didn’t work out as planned. Her parents who are both interior architects were a big support for Lore, they kept encouraging her and she decided to start jewellery design at Mad faculty in Hasselt. The first year was extremely difficult to adapt but her parents were very supportive and helped her get through. She had to work hard for it and passed from one deadline project to another. After 4 years of Uni she became Master in jewellery design. After that she was offered the chance to start a PHD study and so ‘Hunacturing’ was born.
It combines both nature and manufacturing. In her PHD she researched the interaction between the manual and mechanical process in terms of completing both unique and serial objects. Studying reproducibility throughout an experimental approach, she also studied how behavior and qualities of materials and digital technology (laser cutting) had an influence on this process and she focused both on the tactile and physical aspects of a design.
The beauty in her research was that she designed new and unique pieces with a digital tool that was meant to be designed for mass production.
Using the animal skin she let the material be an active player in the creative process. The nature of the animal skin defined the uniqueness of the pieces. She used pieces from the animal skin that anyone else would throw out. For Lore that rare piece of skin just made the designs unique!

Her interests broaden further then jewellery only. She also loves to experiment and indulge in a lot of other creative things like fashion and fabrics, photography, … She is inspired by a bunch of things but she gets a lot of inspiration out of books and also loves the work of artists like Mark Monzo, …

To be part of the creative process is an important value in Lore’s designs. The circle is an almost undiscussable form in many of Lore’s designs. The simplicity and purity of this geometrical figure intrigued her from the very start of her study and career. She doesn’t really know yet what the future will bring. Ideally teaching would make life more practical and financially more stable. But she also loves the fact that she now finally isn’t caught up in her Phd anymore and can work on interesting projects of all kinds. She does not want to be seen just as a jewellery designer.
She loves to collaborate with other creatives to experience new projects.

Her style is rather minimalistic I would say, her designs come across as strong and real to me, each piece I think looks ‘luxurious’ but it is never too showy. The brooches for example are subtle in one way, being minimalistic in its form yet so strong and out there by the choice of a very delicate material; animal skin. It can brighten up or complete your outfit without being too prominent.
There is a tremendous quality to her work; each piece is fashionable and attracts attention through subtleties. As a designer of wearable and unwearable objects, she also shares her appreciation for beauty, her designs are meant to attribute beauty to the wearer. The relationship between the human body and the object is very important to her!

All collections are handcrafted in limited edition to preserve the integrity of each piece. Her talent has certainly not gone unnoticed, you can enjoy Lore’s work in a variety of places. Abroad her collection is being sold in Melbourne and New York. In Belgium she has selling points in Gent & Antwerpen but also in Limburg. You can check out her collection or purchase a Lore Langendries at art gallery Multiple in Hasselt and also in Gallery the mijlpaal in Heusden Zolder.
At the moment she has an amazing collaboration project running with Le chaperon unlimited, called the Holstein project. It is a wall piece consisting of a cowhide where out she obtained 366 individual brooches. If you buy a brooch you will not only have a unique designer piece of Lore Langendries but you will also become part of the Holstein family. Eventually they will bring together everyone who bought a brooch, as a family from this specific project and cowhide.

I had such a good time interviewing her! She was so friendly and open and despite her busy schedule, she took her time on a Sunday morning to explain everything we wanted to know with such passion it was contagious. I feel she is a compassionate, strong and very kind women. I had to write down her story because I absolutely love her designs and her way of craftsmanship.

Link to site: http://www.lorelangendries.com

Australia

My trip to Australia became the journey of my life. Filled with beautiful places and wonderful trips. More importantly I met so many incredible people. They teached me important values, showed me new things in life, were so generous, friendly, open and kind to me and most of all they made me part of their family and they loved me unconditionally.

During my travels there is one specific thing I realized once more..
Working is not the most important thing in life, luxury and materialistic wealth isn’t either..
What’s most important in  life is “time”… and more particular time spent in a way you love to spend it,surrounded by loved ones.

We spend most of our time working, we live to work… But shouldn’t it be the other way around? We all know that there is more to life…
There are friends and family, there is love and passion, there is food and culture, there are sports and hobbies and creative activities… all there for us to explore and enjoy!

I came tot the conclusion I often worried about unimportant, invaluable and replaceable things.
I swore to myself I really was not going to fall for that again when I returned… I was going to maintain this lifestyle and these values.

Honestly the longer I’ve been back the more I realized that nothing was less true.
I may have stood steady for 6 months. A lot of my friends told me I was different and I had changed. Not that I was less vibrant as before… but I now knew what my main values were.. my goals were different. Also I was having a hard time realizing that all I had loved so intensely during my stay I had left behind and this time I couldn’t easy my mind knowing it was temporary. It dawned on me it could be forever.

So during my stay I met lots of inspiring people. People who I admire because they had the strength to follow there passion and stick with it… Even though it does not always mean success, wealth and rich dome. They do what they love.. what they are passionate about and they do it every day.
The stories of these people stayed on my mind for so long now trying to figure out what it is that I am so passionate about…
I’ve known for a long time I loved writing but never considered to follow through.
I’ve been so inspired by these courages ones that I figured I had to write down their stories because if they inspired me so intensly.. why not let them inspire everyone..

I honestly believe that every portrait will be a story worth telling and spreading. Honest and extraordinary stories to inspire everyone to follow their passion and their dreams!