Me, My Heart, and I

by Melinda Gallo

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 :: Paris: from sorrow to hope

When I went to my company's office just outside Paris on Monday, everybody brought up Fridayís tragic events. One colleague recounted anecdotes of friends who were at the Bataclan and miraculously escaped while another colleague told us that he often ate at one of the restaurants that was targeted. I suddenly felt as if the world was incredibly small. Almost too small for my comfort. I donít personally know anyone who was affected, but in the end we were all affected no matter where we were. The attacks hurt us all. Some people were physically hurt, but the rest of us were emotionally and psychologically hurt.

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Me, My Heart, and I :: Paris: City of Light, City of Peace

Along with millions all over the world, I looked at the photos from Friday nightís horrific attacks in Paris and was stunned. In my mind, it was inconceivable to have such a thing happen in a city that I not only live in, but also know and love. Because I had been away from Paris for two months, I made plans with my beau to enjoy a day in Paris. I never imagined that it might not happen. When I was on the plane just a few days ago, I had visions of me traipsing all over town and going to all my favorite spots. Unfortunately, Friday nightís events in Paris shook us to our core and our plans to visit Paris didnít sound reasonable.

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Me, My Heart, and I :: Achieving balance in Florence

When I began this blog, I initially imagined that I would write about what I love in my two cities and share the magic of each one. I had been happily going back and forth between Florence and Paris for a year and a half before I claimed Paris as my second home almost three years ago. The decision to make Paris my home was precipitated by my divorce and my decision to move in with my beau. It wasnít until recently that I realized that my life was out of balance and I needed to do something to get it back into balance.

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Me, My Heart, and I :: Diving back into my local life

When I arrived in Florence, I dropped my bag off in my apartment and rushed outside to embrace my beloved city. I walked briskly along the Arno with no destination in mind. I headed toward the Ponte Vecchio and let my inspiration guide me to where to go next. People were strolling along the narrow lungarno in both directions. It was impossible to stay on the sidewalk so I stepped onto the street when I heard that there werenít any cars coming.

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Me, My Heart, and I :: Savoring the moment

One thing I love about living in both Florence and Paris is that I have the luxury of time. Whether I plan an excursion around town or if I happen to be out to meet a friend or to run an errand, I get to take a moment or two to enjoy my cities. I often take a detour just so I can admire one of my favorite churches, admire the view of the Arno from different angles, or stroll along backstreets. I do my best to breathe in my cities and enjoy them whenever I get a chance.

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Me, My Heart, and I :: Indulging in Paris before taking off for Florence

I am a city girl. I have known that ever since I lived in Lyon, France for my junior year abroad. When I returned to California, I dreamt of going to live in another city and was fortunate enough to land in Paris. I am extremely fortunate to call two cities my home. In Florence, I live in the heart of the city, but in France my beau and I live just outside of Paris. Itís incredibly close and it only takes me 20 minutes on the mťtro to get to the center of town. But for me there is something about going to sleep in the city and waking up to it that I truly miss.

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Me, My Heart, and I :: Places affect and shape us

Every place affects us differently. Some places instill us with peace and tranquility while others instill us with other emotions. I have noticed that when I am in Florence and Paris different aspects are brought to the forefront. Florence accentuates my creativity and desire for freedom while Paris accentuates ambition and my desire for structure.

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This has been a year of introspection for me. I didnít write as much as I wouldíve liked for both of my blogs. Looking back, I realize now that I needed some time to reassess what I wanted to focus on for each blog. Iíve decided to separate my two blogs even more. My Living in Florence blog will be only about Florence and in this blog I will write more about being an expat.

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