For those of you just jumping in on this, I recently spent nearly a month in my ‘home at heart’, Italy. Traveling from central to the South, it was an amazing 3.5 weeks full of food, drink, adventures and … LIFE lessons.

In my last blog I shared some of my foodie lessons on Drinking Wine, Stopping for Coffee and Eating Carbs so if you missed it do get back to read it! You CAN live like the Italians do 🙂

This week I wanted to write about the tears and rewards. The deeper lessons. Each one of these will eventually earn it’s own article or series but for now, a quick story:

I worked my TAIL off for 5 years to pay for this trip – to take my mom, three kids and myself to Italy. It was a DREAM for a long time and to see it coming alive was a huge moment for me. To be able to leave my studio for an entire month and know my team had it covered? Priceless.

We started in Rome and had a fun filled 3 days visiting the Colosseum, Vatican and all the Ancient City had to offer. On day 3, I picked up my rental car, loaded up 3 kids, my mom and 7 suitcases and off we went. 2 Hours Later, after stopping for a quick bite to eat, I returned to the car only to find the windows smashed in and

ALL our belongings… GONE.

All 7 suitcases, 3 laptops, 2 ipads, cell phones, Passports, lots of cash. Arggg!! All my favourite clothes, my work projects on my desktop, Grayson’s blankie and teddy, the girls things – Boom! Just like that. I know – I shouldn’t have left the car unattended. I take full responsibility. But it is what it is. So what could we do?

I cleaned the broken glass, bought some plastic, taped up the window and off we went to Tuscany – to the gorgeous villa I had rented for the week. I was convinced once we arrived I could regroup and try to relax and enjoy the trip.

We arrived around 8:30 PM and noticed there were already cars in the driveway and another family was in the house. After calling the owner, and a few rounds of cross checking emails, came the kicker.

My reservation was booked for 2017. Next year. What!? NO way. That could not be. I had been in touch with the agency multiple times over the past weeks.

I had a meltdown. Right there in the driveway. With my broken car, my kids staring at me – all of us in our one set of beach clothes with

no bags and no where to stay for the night. I had to get my ACT together.

With the help of the owner, we were able to find a place for one night. It was high season so we had to call every little town around and finally found someone with two rooms. If you’ve ever driven in Italy in the dark, on country roads you can attest to the fact that it was no easy task to find this place alive. Not to mention the steep pitch they called a driveway that led up the path to the hotel was a challenge in itself!

That night was a little hellish, but the start of something wonderful…

On Abundance vs Scarcity

I mentioned this but I worked really hard for a long time to pay for this trip. I prayed for weeks leading up to the trip that this would be an amazing time for re connecting with my kids, especially my teenage daughter. That this would be a time of extreme blessing and love and we would be able to fully enjoy it.

WOW. Careful what you ask for. By day 3 with literally nothing left, there was no crap to lug around. No cell phones to distract us. No instagram. No snapchat. No laptop to catch up on work. Not a lot of extra funds after losing so much. There wasn’t even a place to stay for the beginning of the trip.

Yet – we had so much. I realized the high value we place on stuff is so ridiculous. Stuff is replaceable. As quickly as it’s accumulated it can be lost. How much STRESS does stuff cause so many of us?

Another thing that was amazing what that SO many people stepped up and helped us out. We had people take us to dinner, show us new places, make introductions.. it was abundant.

So… what IS abundance?

In my books its being able to focus on the REAL blessing – the relationships and the people.

Focus on what we have vs what we lost.

To focus on building new vs staring back at what’s gone or what we might lose again.

It’s knowing that you can feel so FULL with so little or so EMPTY with so much. It’s a choice. An attitude.

On Gratitude and Simplicity

For the rest of the trip, we (mostly) lived out of one Addidas gym bag for 4 of us. Everyone got 2 changes of clothes, we washed clothes in the bathroom sink and I hung them to dry most days. You realize how little you actually need to get by but how MUCH we hold on to and lug around. And I am not talkign about just stuff here. I am talking about hurt, anger, sadness whatever. And then we let it hold us back from becoming who we were meant to be.

How LIBERATING it is to let go and live simply. To not lug around a bunch of ‘baggage’ that weighs you down and you have to remember it everywhere you go.

It made me grateful for our health, the fact that something way worse could have happened and we were all safe. It really puts things back into perspective.

On Embracing Change & Being Open to New Experiences

Sometimes you have to get off course. There was a total kink in my perfect plans. I didn’t get to stay in the luxury villa for a week (just one night). Instead we stayed in a Medieval Tower where the last guest book entry was from the 1998’s. It was something magical like out of a Harry Potter novel. It had overgrown figs, grapes and herb gardens and nooks for the kids to explore. It was raw, scary, exciting and FUN!

I also ended up reconnecting with another cousin of mine who I don’t normally keep in touch with. It turns out we have so much in common and we even got to head out for some new adventures on their boat visiting the coastline of Italy where we went to Ischia and Amalfi.

By our perfect plans getting ‘ruined’, it created the path for new experiences. We went boating, sailing, reconnected with family we hadn’t seen and bonded in a creepy Medieval Tower laughing and swapping stories.

How does this relate to your health? It has EVERYTHING to do with.

Above all else, above what you eat and how many times you exercise what REALLY counts is your attitude. If you are stuck in a victim mindset, don’t appreciate your wins, get stuck holding onto past hurts and sweat the little stuff – you are going to pay for it in health.

COMMIT to the JOURNEY, EMBRACE the CHANGE. and enjoy the RIDE