Anneleen Adriaenssens is a networker at Everyone Deserves a Holiday (Iedereen Verdient Vakantie), Visit Flanders
Strolling down an alley in Barcelona. The peak summer months are over, but the sun is still there to keep us warm. We have a destination in mind, but there’s no rush to get there. That’s the kind of thought that goes through my mind when you ask me about a special holiday memory. With a busy life and two children, it’s a real treat to go on a break, just the two of us. And to feel that we’re a good couple, that the love is still there.
A bit of space to disconnect goes a long way towards a healthy life
That trip to Barcelona had a sort of hidden beauty to me. It wasn’t in the flamboyant colours of Gaudi, or in the joyful fountains of the numerous parks. Instead, it was about allowing myself to let go of everything for a change. Maybe for the first time in years. There are shorter opportunities to unwind, of course: going out for dinner or to the cinema. Still, it feels a bit like trying to relax when you’ve left your car engine on in the parking lot. (laughs) I think it’s crucial for a healthy life to give yourself some space to actually disconnect every once in a while.
Stories of hope
In my job, I meet a lot of people who live in poverty. They have many of the same problems that I have on my mind, except that their living situations make them so much more difficult. I think that in their circumstances it takes a lot more courage to say “I deserve a break”.
"Holidays can be a gift, a moment of indulgence for yourself in order to step away from your daily chores and responsibilities for a while." Anneleen Adriaenssens
Holidays can be a gift, a moment of indulgence for yourself in order to step away from your daily chores and responsibilities for a while. To really let go and enjoy. That’s important for everyone. For some people it can lead to fundamental changes.
I was very impressed by Marjan’s story*. As a woman suffering from poverty and poor health, a doctor stood before her one day and said: “you don’t need to be admitted into hospital, what you need is a holiday”. Through the Flemish network ‘Everyone deserves a holiday’ (Iedereen verdient vakantie), she was able to do just that. And it was life-changing. Now she really enjoys going on holiday. By committing to ‘Rap op Stap’, she now helps others to do so. There’s also Charlotte*. She’s 72 and recently stood with her feet in the sea for the first time in her life. I couldn’t believe it at first. Being 72 years of age and never having laid eyes on the sea! Her story was so full of courage. She just decided she wanted to experience the sea once in her lifetime. To give herself the gift of this day out. That kind of story gives me hope.
"When you tell your story, you let it out and you can move on. When you really listen, you can be affected by it in some way and might start seeing things from a different perspective." Anneleen Adriaenssens
Stories can be very powerful. I think we remember stories more, as opposed to numbers and facts. There’s power not only in telling them, but also in hearing them. When you tell your story, you let it out and you can move on. When you really listen, you can be affected by it in some way and might start seeing things from a different perspective. It can help you get rid of feelings of shame, for instance, which opens up some space. If this were to happen on a larger scale, so many things would be possible. There would be more openness, exchange and participation, and everyone could go on holiday.
*names were changed to protect the identity of these women.