Me, My Heart, and I

by Melinda Gallo

Me, My Heart, and I :: Experiencing more beauty every day

Itís only recently that I understood how to deepen my experience of the beauty around me. I used to look at something and immediately judge it as beautiful or not. I either focused on it or looked away. When I sit in a garden, walk through Florenceís streets and piazzas, or stroll along the Arno, I try to consciously keep my heart open and breathe my surroundings into my heart. Itís a delight to to revel in the beauty of a single flower, a pathway, or even sunlight beaming through the trees. I am always amazed at how something that pleases my eye can fill me with so much joy that my heart bursts open.

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Me, My Heart, and I :: Reaching for love

For a long time now, I have tried to not write about grief. I thought if I wrote about other things, this need to write about grief would just go away. However, for the last few weeks thatís all that has been wanting to come out. A few nights in a row, I have woken up in the middle of the night with words streaming into my mind that wanted to be written. I would have to open up my iPad and dictate into my Notes App. Yesterday, while I was in the Giardino Bardini I decided to bring a notebook with me. For a while, I hadnít wanted to have a notebook on me because I didnít really want to write about grief outside of my home. Often I am inspired to write when I am in one of Florenceís gardens soaking up her energy. I initially didnít want to pull out my notebook after I sat down on a wooden bench under the warm afternoon sun facing east, but I did.

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Me, My Heart, and I :: Endings and beginnings

As 2019 is about to begin, I feel an excitement and a lightness that I havenít felt in quite a while. Itís not a feeling that comes and goes; itís a feeling that is solid within me. I experienced some upheaval these past few years, which initially I thought was a curse, but now have come to realize that it was a blessing. If someone would have told me that my entire life would be turned upside down, everything and everyone removed from it, and that I would rebuild a more solid life based in love, I wouldnít have believed them. But it happened.

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Me, My Heart, and I :: Embracing people and places

The more I discover other parts of the world, the more I consider each place to be like a person. Each place has its own unique mix of history, culture, and energy. When I visit a place, I look at it like having a conversation with it. I might get an impression about a place based on my interaction with it, but I canít know it very well. Not only does it take time, but it takes a wide variety of experiences for me to understand a place. I have lived in Florence for the last fourteen years and I am certainly no expert. And, honestly, I don't want to be. If I believe I know a place, it restricts me from discovering more and from seeing it evolve. Every place and every person is constantly evolving. If we classify someone or some place, it makes it more difficult to notice the changes.

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Me, My Heart, and I :: My journey of writing a novel

This morning when I woke up, the last thing I thought I would be writing about was the third draft of my novel. I tend to be quite reserved when it comes to discussing my current writing projects. For some reason, however, I felt a push inside of me today that said that things must change. I must change. Itís scary to talk about something that is still in progress. Itís like digging up a seed to see if itís sprouting. What if the seed has died? What if the seed only has a tiny sprout and needs more time? Those are the questions I ask myself, which keep me quiet about my writing projects. I couldnít get the first few sentences of this blog post out of my head until I wrote them down, so I decided to do so.

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Me, My Heart, and I :: A break leads to a breakthrough

I have kept relatively quiet on my blogs for the past six months. I didnít consciously choose not to write, but I wasnít as clear as before about what I wanted to write in my blogs. I have worked on many posts, but didnít feel like publishing them. I set aside my writing projects because I felt a little lost. It was a bit scary for me to stop focusing on my projects because I wondered if maybe I wouldnít pick them back up again. I felt that I had to take the risk even though it frightened me. I told myself that if Iím meant to complete my projects, I will. And if not, I will discover what I should be writing.

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Me, My Heart, and I :: Photography as a way to savor the moment

AnaÔs Nin is quoted with saying, ďWe write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.Ē I feel quite similarly about photography. The first time I experience beauty, the moment is intense and rich with the stimulation of all of my senses. The second time it is more like an echo of that first experience, but all my senses are not stimulated to the same extent as they were originally.

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Me, My Heart, and I :: Home is where my heart expands

My sense of home has shifted since I first became an expat. I used to consider home to be the location where I was brought up and where my family lived. However, now I believe that home is no longer that static place from my past, but rather the place that nurtures and supports me. I'm not at home in Florence because I live here and ďhome is where the heart is,Ē but rather because itís where my heart expands.

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Me, My Heart, and I :: My artist trip to Berlin

The one book that changed my life as a writer is ďThe Artistís WayĒ by Julia Cameron. Ever since I read it, I have been writing my morning pages and going on weekly artist dates. Every morning, I write the three pages, called ďmorning pagesĒ to clear out the chatter in my head and drop down into my heart to where my writing wants to come from. Since I live in Florence, itís relatively easy to go on at least one artist date a week. After going on my artist dates for many years, I realized that every time I was alone I was on an artist date. I could hop on a bus, take a train, or wait in line and suddenly I found myself opening up to my surroundings and letting beauty be unveiled to me.

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