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 ďhome is where the heart is,Ē but rather because itís where my heart expands.

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Me, My Heart, and I :: Crafting my own rhythm and honoring each writing project

The day after my job as a technical writer in Paris ended a year ago, I turned my focus onto my writing projects. I thought the switch would be easy. Writing was no longer something I fit into my life, but rather became my main focus. Working as a freelancer for so many years, I have always been able to focus on my tasks, manage my time, and realize my goals with relative ease. I thought Iíd be able to have the exact same approach with my writing. Unfortunately, it didnít happen that way. I wasnít able to focus on my writing for eight hours a day, like I would with my day job. I got distracted by fears bubbling up inside of me and doubts tapping me on the shoulder when I least expected it.

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Me, My Heart, and I :: Expats are immigrants with options

Every now and again the debate about whether expats are immigrants comes up. While I am not fond of labels, I do recognize their usefulness at times and am also aware however that they can be quite limiting. The difference between an immigrant and an expatriate is that the former lives permanently overseas while the latter does not. In my mind, expats are immigrants with options: they have the option not only to decide where they live and how long they stay, but also if they want to return to their native lands. Immigrants, on the other hand, rarely return to their native countries. My great-grandfather arrived in the US from China while my Italian grandparents arrived as children. None of my ancestors returned to their homelands and considered the US their home. That is what immigrants do: they make their new country their home and thatís exactly what expats should do as well. Even if you are in a location only temporarily, you have to treat it as if it is your home.

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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 :: 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 care 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 :: A new chapter in my life

This blog entry marks the end of my previous blog ďMy Heart in Two PlacesĒ in which I wrote about my life as a double expat and the beginning of my new blog ďMe, My Heart, and IĒ where I will be writing about this new chapter in my life. I have always been a true believer in the expression ďQuando si chiude una porta, si apre un portone. (When one door closes, another one opens.)Ē I have been through a lot of deaths and rebirths in my life and even if I feel some trepidation today, I am extremely excited about this new door that has opened up to 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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