Nabbed to Rome… La Vita e Bella!

Today marks one week since The Roaming Gnome nabbed me from my cozy NYC apartment for a trip around the globe.  I’m seated in business class on a Swiss Air flight from Rome to Beijing, with a stopover in Zurich, Switzerland, looking out at the billowy clouds beneath me spread out like a down blanket, with reflections of the soft pastels of pink, orange and blue lighting up the sky and beckoning this day forth.

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In the car on the way to the NYC hotel we stayed at right after the Gnome Nabbed Me!

Boarding the Brussels Air flight to Rome via way of Brussels, Belgium-- first class all the way, baby!

Boarding the Brussels Air flight to Rome via way of Brussels, Belgium– first class all the way, baby!

This has been the most beautifully overwhelming week.  I knew when I got that flier for this contest to get nabbed by Travelocity’s Roaming Gnome that my life would be forever changed.  One week in, it already has.  I got to have the kinds of experiences in Rome that storybooks are made of, like Ferrari driving through the Italian countryside…

Getting ready to go for a spin...

Getting ready to go for a spin…

Styling in our aviators

Styling in our aviators

Ferrari looks good on us, don't you think?

Ferrari looks good on us, don’t you think?

An authentic Italian cooking class where I expanded my baking horizons from chocolate chip cookies, my famous ‘ooie gooie’ chocolate chip peanut butter caramel brownies and my cupcakes to homemade tiramisu….

Italian cooking class...

Italian cooking class…

Homeade tiramisu... I am adding this to my baking repertoire!

Homeade tiramisu… I am adding this to my baking repertoire!

Tours through the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Cathedral, the Pantheon, the Colosseum and making wishes at Trevi fountain…..

Making a wish at Trevi fountain

Making a wish at Trevi fountain

In awe at the Colosseum

In awe at the Colosseum

Beautiful Italian Piazza where we stopped for gelato...

Beautiful Italian Piazza where we stopped for gelato…

Gladiator school where we learned how to fight like the Romans did– quite authentic, and Jeanne and I were quite bad at it….

Before our final match

Before our final match

In the action-- I could hardly fight because I couldn't keep from laughing..

In the action– I could hardly fight because I couldn’t keep from laughing..

A private four hour Vespa tour through Rome, stopping at places like the Spanish steps and panoramic overlooks of the city….

Getting ready to ride!

Getting ready to ride!

My 1970's vintage Vespa for our tour through Roma...

My 1970’s vintage Vespa for our tour through Roma…

I am learning a lot about the expansiveness of the mind and that there are truly no limitations in life to anything that I desire to create.  We were brought into this world to create beautiful things, to love, to learn and to inspire others.

Someone asked me this week if in my wildest dreams I could have ever imagined getting to have experiences like these—flying first class all around the world, staying in five star hotels and having all of these ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ kinds of opportunities.  My answer to that would be both yes and no.  No, in that I wasn’t prepared for it to be this good.  Travelocity and their amazing team has been better to us than I could have dreamed up.  But, I say yes because even if I couldn’t have planned it coming together so beautifully like this on my own, I have always know in my spirit that I was created for greatness—greatness in my love for life and for other people, greatness in the life experiences I have known that I was made to create and savor.  When I entered this contest, I continued to think and  ask myself, “Why not me?”  Why not me being the one to ride in a candy apple red Ferrari through Italy’s rolling hills?  Why not me to lick a big cone of gelato in Piazza Navona in Rome?  Why not me to take in the beauty of Michelangelo’s work in the Sistine Chapel?

Funny moment in Gladiator school.

Funny moment in Gladiator school.

Cooking our incredible meal at cooking school...

Cooking our incredible meal at cooking school…

So I ask you the same question.  Why not you to have all that you dream of in life?  How do you view your life and your ‘luck’?  Personally, I think I am one of the luckiest people on this earth…. but I thought that far before I won a trip around the world valued at $65,000.  How you see life determines what you perceive about it.  Of course things that other people could consider as unlucky happen to me sometimes.  When I was traveling through India a few years ago, a series of events happened that caused me to miss my Air France flight from Delhi back to the U.S.  Flights were full for days, so I was stranded for 4 days waiting to get a flight out.  I would go to the airport each day for hours to wait standby and see if anything opened up.  My change fees for the flight ended up costing me about as much as the entire amount that I spent in India during my three weeks there.  Instead of believing I was down on my luck, I chose a positive attitude and the belief that it’s a normal part of travel.

When you change your mindset and expect for amazing things to come your way, you’ll be able to recognize them more easily when they do.

I am heading from a place that I love, full of warmth, beauty, homemade pasta, cappuccinos in the morning and flowing wine throughout the day, to a place totally foreign to me, a place where I don’t anything about the culture or the cuisine and where the language is less romantic and the traffic much thicker.

As I leave behind this first leg of our incredible international journey, I have a full heart.  La vita è bella.

Carpe Diem,

Ashley

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