Me, My Heart, and I

by Melinda Gallo

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 “home is where the heart is,” but rather because it’s 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 “The Artist’s Way” 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 “morning pages” 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, it’s 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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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 wasn’t 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 :: Reconnecting myself with Paris

I don’t think about Florence when I am in Paris and I don’t think about Paris when I’m 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 don’t want to be thinking about someone else or about what I’ll 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 :: 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. It’s 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 didn’t plan on taking at all and it was just a case of being at the “right place” at the “right time.”

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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 DeVee’s 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 Gina’s 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 didn’t 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 “five-year hiatus.” It’s 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 mom’s 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 I’m 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 :: Adapting to a new rhythm

It has taken me over a month to get used to not working for someone else. The shift for me was to make my writing a priority and for it to become my new "job." Adjusting my daily routine was quite simple, but I had to create a new rhythm for myself. All these years I worked as a freelancer prepared me in understanding how best to organize my time and my priorities.

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