Me, My Heart, and I

by Melinda Gallo

Me, My Heart, and I :: Appreciation is the key to happiness

For over a year, I have dedicated time to watch the sunset wherever I was. I initially took photos of sunsets only if I happened to be out at the right time. Eventually, I began to go for a walk outside to watch the sunset. I began to feel a great sense of joy bubbling up inside of me each time. I realized that there was something incredibly healing and empowering about watching the sunset. I wasnít feeling joy only from the beauty I was experiencing, but instead from the appreciation I was giving. As I watched the sky changing colors, the birds flying overhead, the boats passing along the river, the people walking around me, the wind blowing in my hair, and the church bells chiming, I began to feel a great sense of appreciation for the moment I was experiencing as well as the life I was living.

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Me, My Heart, and I :: Embracing diversity

One of the greatest lessons that my expat life has taught me is that "Tutto il mondo Ť paese.ď This Italian expression means that regardless of any differences that may exist between us, we are all the same. When you embark on a life overseas, you are invited to embrace diversity. Living in another country, you don't just accept the differences that may exist between you and the locals, but instead you open yourself up to the locals by speaking their language, adapting their customs and way of life, and basically living your daily life as they do. It doesnít mean that you will end up liking everything that they do in your new home country, but you should open yourself up to it all and hopefully try.

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Me, My Heart, and I :: Reconnecting myself with Paris

I donít think about Florence when I am in Paris and I donít think about Paris when Iím in Florence. I try to always be as present as possible wherever I am. I feel more alive when I use my senses to embrace and enjoy my surroundings as well as the local culture and language. When I am having coffee with a friend, I like to be connected to her for the time we share together. I donít want to be thinking about someone else or about what Iíll be doing afterwards. I want to be fully present with her so that I can fully enjoy the moments we share. The same goes for wherever I am, whether it is Florence, Paris, or some other city. I want to create a connection and forge a bond between the city and me.

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Me, My Heart, and I :: Creating my writer's life

It has taken me some time to create my new life as a full-time writer. When I stopped working at the end of January, I thought I would just wake up the next morning and focus on my writing projects, but thatís not exactly what happened. I sat down in front of my computer the next day and wasnít able to concentrate. For a week, I looked at my projects and felt empty. I was surprised since writing full-time had been my goal for a long time. I decided to take a break to figure out what was going on and realized that I couldnít just start a new life without first putting to rest my old one. For years, writing was something I fit into my life and now it was to be at the center of my life.

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Me, My Heart, and I :: Photography as a way to appreciate beauty

Like most people, I appreciate the beauty I see in this world. I love how beauty enters my eyes and gently settles into my heart. Even though I never studied photography, I find great joy in taking pictures. I have an SLR, which I rarely carry around with me due to its cumbersomeness, but I prefer taking pictures with my iPhone. Itís more convenient to use my iPhone because I always have it on me and can take a photo almost instantaneously. I never plan on taking a specific photo when I'm walking around Florence. I have a few favorite spots where I enjoy the view, but I only take a photo if I feel like it. A few of my best-loved photos are ones I didnít plan on taking at all and it was just a case of being at the ďright placeĒ at the ďright time.Ē

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Me, My Heart, and I :: Divine Living in Florence

I am often invited to events in Florence because of my Living in Florence blog, but I rarely attend any of them. Last month, Gina DeVeeís exectutive assistant contacted me about attending a Divine Living conference in Florence. I quickly perused the website to learn more about the event and was pleased when I read that Ginaís mission was to empower women by teaching them to get clear on their desires, own their uniqueness, be in their power, and enjoy life. Before accepting this generous offer to attend the WOW Factor Live Event, I asked if they expected me to write something on my blog. When they said that they just wanted me to attend the event without any obligation, I didnít hesitate for a moment.

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Me, My Heart, and I :: My five-year hiatus to the US

In my last blog post, I mentioned my ďfive-year hiatus.Ē Itís a term I use to describe the time I spent in California after being an expat in France, England, and Italy for a total of ten years. I packed up all my belongings and moved back to the US a week after my mother called to tell me she was diagnosed with cancer. Ever since I made the decision to live overseas, I had always known that I would only ever move back to California to take of my mom if she ever needed it. Nothing could have ever prevented me from being at my momís side.

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Me, My Heart, and I :: Coming full circle to be a writer in Florence

I initially came to Florence to learn Italian and find my inspiration to write. I thought of going to Venice, Rome, or Siena, but the woman at the Italian Consulate in London convinced me that Florence was a better choice. I had visited Florence only once in July and never thought I could live here, but Iím happy I listened to her because Florence has ended up being the perfect city for me.

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Me, My Heart, and I :: Running and writing practices as habits

After consistently running every other day for the last few weeks, running has become a habit for me once again. It was a habit for many years and then after skipping one day that led to one month, the habit was broken. Whatís great about a habit is that even broken, you can mend it back by continually practicing. I noticed this not only with my running, but also with my writing. I found that the key to creating a habit was keeping a scheduled practice and not listening to fears or worries when they tap me on the shoulder.

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