Me, My Heart, and I

by Melinda Gallo

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 can’t 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 :: 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 :: 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 I’d be able to have the exact same approach with my writing. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen that way. I wasn’t 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 :: 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 care 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 :: Paris: City of Light, City of Peace

Along with millions all over the world, I looked at the photos from Friday night’s 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 night’s events in Paris shook us to our core and our plans to visit Paris didn’t sound reasonable.

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Me, My Heart, and I :: Simultaneously fitting in and sticking out

My upbringing has probably made my being an expat a little less challenging than for others. My parents were of two different (and opposing) races: my mother was Chinese and my father was Italian. As a result, I have never felt as if I really fit in anywhere and have always felt like the odd-one-out. I was brought up in my Chinese family so I was used to being “different” and never felt as if I fully belonged even though I did.

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