Somewhere along the way, most of us have thought of ditching the humdrum of our daily existence for a life less ordinary. Oftentimes, it takes a personal crisis before a person takes action; others simply figure out that fulfilment is easier found beyond life's unrelenting hamster wheel. Here, four people tell us how they turned their lives around.
He had been working as a marketing administrator and living in North Strand, Dublin, with his wife Tara when he decided to move to the North Beach in Inishbofin, where he is now the community bus driver.
'Inish bleedin' Bofin. Where's tha'?' was how our friend Kevin reacted when we told him we were leaving Dublin. When we told him it was off the coast of Galway, his puzzled face asked, 'Why?' The simple answer was because Tara and I had both been offered jobs, but the prospect of living on an island had filled us with excitement and a spirit of adventure.
We had been living in Dublin for nearly two years and had embraced it wholesale, particularly the people of Bessborough Avenue and Cusack's Pub at the top of the road.
There was a feeling of a new order in our lives which pervaded the preparations, but the decision to leave was not easy. We had loved our time in Dublin. We got engaged there on Bloomsday and went to Keogh's for a pint to celebrate after buying the ring on Grafton Street. It was a very special time for us, but the move to Inishbofin upped the ante. So, in November last year we took the big step and moved from the North Strand in Dublin to the North Beach on Inishbofin.
My job in Dublin had been as a marketing administrator in DIT and the new job I was moving to on Inishbofin was to be the community bus driver. It involved doing the school runs, giving historical tours of the island and operating a general taxi service. When the weather was warm in Dublin you could open a window to get some relief. On Inishbofin, the dress code extended to T-shirts and flip flops and we are surrounded by the ocean and beaches. I had moved from an office environment to being out and about in the freshest air in the world.
We got married in April and from then until now it has been full speed and maximum craic. Whether it's something in that air or in the water, I don't know, but things happen here that have no chance of happening anywhere else. When a Belgian pop star knocks on the window with a basket of pollock as a thank-you for a lift to the pub the previous evening, you know that what you thought you knew is not how it is any more. Also, there are not too many places where it is acceptable for someone to pay for a drive home by playing a tune on the fiddle.
During the winter, Bofin is a peaceful place where the close community settles in for the long nights ahead but, in summer, it is transformed when the sun and the music cause people to flock here once again.
There are obviously some things you miss from the city; living on an island where you have to depend on the ferry might not be to everyone's liking, but you only miss those things when you are reminded of them on the mainland – the cinema and the Royal City Chinese spring to mind.
The twist of fate, or luck, or whatever you believe brought us to Inishbofin has been one of the best things to have happened to us. We were happy in Dublin, but you know you have moved to the right place when the thought of living anywhere else would be a disappointment. That is what we have found on Inish bleedin' Bofin.
She had been working as the director of marketing strategy for an online company, when she decided to 'run away' to the Bahamas and train as a yoga instructor. Lisa, from Dublin, now runs the Elbow Room, a wellbeing hub in Stoneybatter.
I was working in San Francisco for a company called Oracle, and was headhunted back to Ireland through a start-up called Baltimore Technologies. It seemed like a great opportunity – and it was time to leave San Francisco, anyway, as my mother was sick with breast cancer at the time.
I came home and worked in the IFSC in Dublin, which was very different from San Francisco. The latter was very relaxed, while the former was very much 'corporate land', where we had to wear suits.
But there was a great pool of knowledge there, which was exciting.
After Baltimore went live on NASDAQ, the whole self-belief of how great we were kind of affected everyone in the company. You came in first thing in the morning, logged on and worked out how much you were worth with Baltimore stock. Then, you went out at night and got blasted drunk. During the Celtic Tiger, I remember pulling all-nighters.
My stress levels went through the roof. As I got burnt out, I went to a yoga class in town on the suggestion of a friend and it was genuinely like someone had just reset my brain. I came out smiley and happy.
Around that time, someone else gave me the 'Dummies' Guide To Stress' and, sure enough, point 23 was to run away, which I did. I packed in my job and my boyfriend, and ran to the Bahamas to train as a yoga instructor.
When I got to Barbados, it was 5am, so I pitched my tent on the beach. I woke to hear everyone singing these Hare Krishna songs and thought, 'Oh God, what have I done?'
Every time you go to yoga practice, you step out feeling bliss and a happy sensation. I went from chronically stressed to blissfully happy, and I thought, 'If I can do it to myself when I was in a really bad way, I can do it with other people.' I went back to Dublin, did a bit of software consulting for money, and opened up the Elbow Room in Stoneybatter.
The learning curve involved in running a business is massive. I've made so many mistakes but, 11 years on, we're still here and expanding all the time.
If people aren't happy, the effect on others can be really toxic and, here, we've got a family vibe with a core group of staff. There's a lot of love in the project and customers notice it and comment on it all the time.
I love my job so much these days. It can be difficult sometimes for family members and friends to appreciate the time commitment involved, but I have enough energy to spend with family. I wish I'd done it years ago."
He went through a self-confessed 'dark phase' and attended CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) for two years. After running bars for years, Kurt, originally from Cork, is now running events for charity Love Music Hate Racism, Ireland.
For many years, I lived with an undercurrent of anger that sometimes broke through to ruin many friendships and jeopardise many jobs that I have had. Self-medicating led to only being able to function in social situations after a few drinks. But then a few turned into quite a few more. Eventually, I only found myself calm the day after a long night. Alarm bells did ring, but I ignored them.
It's also very easy to brush things under the carpet with, 'Ah sure, we were all locked', especially when it's a friend making the excuse for you. But eventually excuses run out and friends start to frown.
To be honest, it was a relationship break-up two years ago that really set me on a road to change. When you know a person wants to live out their days with you and, yet, they still walk away, you know you have serious problem.
It was at that time that I decided to break myself apart and put myself back together the way I wanted to be. So I went and got some professional help.
After a few months, we had discovered that I had been in this repetitive cycle for so long that I'd forgotten what I was so pissed off at in the first place. It was time to stop drinking and start documenting the triggers that would cause me to raise my voice, get perplexed, agitated, defensive, go on the attack and, in some cases, drive my fist into a wall.
Therapy showed me that I wasn't necessarily a person who liked aggression, and that I had a conscience that was good. This conclusion made it easier for me to believe that my reactions were habits I had developed over many years. I uncovered a lot of issues that I had buried deep in the back of my mind and worked through them, one by one.
For me, cognitive behavioural therapy is training yourself to react to certain situations, people and emotions, for the better. Now, I don't have those reactions and, because of the therapy, I've developed a new approach to deal with problems – past and present.
It's probably the best decision I've made in my life so far. I'm definitely a damn sight happier for it. That, and stepping out from behind the bar counter to run events as part of Love Music Hate Racism rather than pull pints at them.
She had been working as one of RTE's most prominent presenters (most notably on 'Live at Three') when the Dubliner decided to leave Montrose and take up painting – her true passion – full-time.
I'd been working as a part-time model when I got a job as an RTE continuity presenter at the age of 16. I was due back at school, but my parents convinced RTE that giving me the job was the best thing to do. I was on air within two days of my first day. I'd won some art competitions down the years, like the Texaco art competition and Glen Abbey Prizes a few times, but it was put to the side.
In small ways, I kept it up – my father would take us on picnics and I would bring my art materials.
While I was doing 'Live At Three', I decided to take some part-time art classes down the road in UCD. There was real nervousness when it came to opening the boxes of paints and facing a blank canvas but, the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
By the 1990s, there was nothing exciting for me to do at RTE. 'Live At Three' was gone and I was offered something I'd definitely have been good at – a radio job – but someone else was doing it at the time and I didn't want to be responsible for someone losing their job. There was just nothing happening to hold me there. I'm sure it took a lot of courage at the time, but I am a courageous person. I just went for it, head first.
It was a very peculiar thing, the transition. I'd been talking for a living every day; next thing, I found myself talking to no one but the dog. I remember thinking how tired I was standing in one position and painting all day; it's like taking on a new physical experience.
On the other hand, TV is so demanding on your time and it doesn't give you the freedom to do anything else but, with art, the wonderful thing is that I can do it at my own pace.
Art seems to be the right thing for my disposition and artistic bent. I discovered at a very young age that it was perfect for me – it's the one thing that I'm completely happy doing.