It’s been a hot second.
Last week was a long one – we dropped Brandon’s youngest daughters off at the London airport on Thursday and headed to Hannover from Thursday-Sunday. In Hannover we met friends, both new and old. They gave us tours of the city’s treasures and made us a home cooked meal. This felt extra special. It’s now been weeks since we’ve been home and this meal was filled with family, love, and laughter. I was in serious need of all 3. In the middle of last week, I had a moment of complete overwhelm. Between our upcoming travel schedule and a lack of consistency, I was definitely struggling for the first time in months. Our time in Hannover was exactly what I needed. I also started a new book – The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F**k and this helped significantly. Maybe I’ll do a book review next week? I’ve been reading lots.
On Sunday, we left Hannover to come to our favorite country: Italy! We are in Florence for the next 7 days and let me tell you why: we are participating in Celebrity Fight Night Italy.
Celebrity Fight Night Italy has changed our lives.
The proceeds from this event go to 2 charities that hold significant meaning for both Brandon and me. The Andrea Bocelli foundation is committed to give the less fortunate a better future and opportunities with Haiti being a specific area of focus. A few years back, my dad started a non-profit in Haiti called Life Saving Surgery Center. He has worked tirelessly to create this surgery center in order for the people of Jacmel to have a safe, clean place to receive the most basic of medical treatments. Brandon and my dad went to Haiti together in 2015 for the opening of the clinic and this experience was life changing for them. Both my dad’s and the Bocelli’s foundations are creating amazing change in Haiti.
The second charity Fight Night supports is the Barrow Neurological Foundation in Phoenix. When I was 9, my grandpa passed after suffering from lewy body dementia. He had tremors for years before he passed and barely recognized us during our last visit. My grandpa passing was my very first experience with death. I remember having endless questions and crying myself to sleep for months. The Barrow Institute is on the forefront of research to help treat people just like my grandpa.
These organizations both do amazing work and Brandon and I are proud to support them through the proceeds of this trip. The impact from these causes alone would be enough for us to commit to this trip every year.
But it’s not just about the causes. It’s about the people. We have met the most incredible people through this organization.
So let me break this trip down for you:
On the first Tuesday in September, 50 couples meet in NYC to fly on a private plane together where we spend 6 days and 5 nights touring Italy, attending black tie events, and watching unbelievebale musical performances. Last year, our trip was to Rome. This year we are in Florence.
Now let’s be real, right as we pulled up to the airport last year I had a moment of sheer panic. It suddenly hit me that we were about to spend the next week with complete strangers. We knew no one. What if they don’t like us? What if we don’t like them? What if everyone has a good time but us? What if all the couples are stuffy? Blah blah blah. I went on and on thinking about all the things that could possibly go wrong.
And not one of them came true. In fact, this trip was beyond my wildest dreams. Not only were the events, accommodations, and experience unbelievable – we made lifelong friends. From the first night to the final night, we had an absolute blast. We stayed up at the bar every night until 4AM, woke up early to go on daytime excursions, got dressed up, headed to a black tie event, just to meet back at the bar again until 4. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. And these formal events weren’t just your run of the mill charity dinners. Each night they created top notch entertainment. We saw Andrea Bocelli, Elton John, Steven Tyler in the Colosseum. At the bar, Brian McKnight, Reba McEntire, Brooks and Dunn, and David Foster would pull together non-rehearsed and candid performances of their hits. Smokey Robinson, Joe Walsh, and Kristen Chenoweth made special appearances throughout the evenings. It was un-freakin-real.
And the people we met. Ah. Let’s talk about the people. Looking back, if we would have only made 1 close couple friend, we would have thought the trip was a success. Before the trip, Brandon and I even said to each other that we would be thrilled to meet 3 new couples. By no means bestie material. Just 6 nice people who we could eat spaghetti with and add to our Christmas card list. In reality, we multiplied that number by 5. That’s right: 15 couples. 15 new, beautiful souls we didn’t know existed before last year who have come into our worlds and created joy, laughter, and genuine friendship.
Before our trip to Italy last year, we were on the fence about buying a home in Arizona. We had looked at 50+ homes already but still weren’t quite ready to pull the trigger. Something was holding us back but we couldn’t put our finger on what it was. Part of it was certainly that all of our family is in the Pacific Northwest and we didn’t know too many people in the Scottsdale area. Lo and behold – the Celebrity Fight Night organization is based in Arizona and most of our new friends lived in Scottsdale. This sealed the deal for us. It felt like fate. Or the universe. Or god giving us a not so subtle thumbs up that Arizona is where we’re supposed to be.
All of this is to say, we can hardly wait for this trip to kick off.
Because we were already in Europe for 2 weeks on our summer family trip, it seemed silly to fly all the way home just to meet everyone in NYC and head back to Europe. So we decided to get settled into our hotel in Florence a couple days early and enjoy the city. I’ve never been here before and everyone I know says Florence is their favorite city ever. So why not get here early and see what all the fuss is about?
Today we did a photoshoot with the same photographer we used in Rome last year. Her photos are hanging on every wall in our house so seeing her again today was like a mini reunion. Tomorrow we’re thinking about walking around the city and checking out the outlet mall – yes please! And we’ll be in prime shape for our friends to arrive on Wednesday afternoon to kickoff our trip. It truly is once in a lifetime. And we’re sitting here, in Florence, snuggling in our cozy bed, feeling unbelievably excited and humbled that we get to do this twice in a lifetime.
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