Me, My Heart, and I

by Melinda Gallo

Wednesday, March 31, 2021
Me, My Heart, and I :: When a heart breaks, it opens and then expands

This morning while I was contemplating what to write in my bio, the words “my five-year hiatus in the US” kept spinning back around in my head. I have used those words many times over the years to explain my absence from Florence. It was my way of containing the most challenging and yet also the most significant five years of my life. I rarely explained that time in my life because I was still struggling to make sense of it myself.

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Monday, June 29, 2020
Me, My Heart, and I :: Birthing my passion project

When I stopped working as a technical writer four years ago, my plan was to focus my energy on two writing projects: one fiction and one nonfiction. I wavered between the two, unsure about which one to publish first. A writer friend told me to pick only one, but I couldn’t. They both inspired me at different times, tugging me in one direction and then the other. I felt lost and confused when my projects weren’t progressing as I would have liked.

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Monday, April 27, 2020
Me, My Heart, and I :: The Gift of Time

After two weeks* of lockdown in Italy, I feel a great sense of tranquility. Initially, I only saw how disrupted my life was and how I couldn’t do what I did before. Over time, I not only adapted to the lockdown, but I began to revel in it.

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Monday, August 26, 2019
Me, My Heart, and I :: Intense and beautiful transformations

The moment I arrived at the top of Giardino Bardini, I was greeted by a butterfly. She encircled me twice before joining a few other butterflies and bees buzzing around a lavender bush. As I watched the butterfly drink nectar from the center of the lavender blossoms, I thought about her life. It's such an incredible transformation for one being to go through: from being born a caterpillar and to being reborn a butterfly.

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Sunday, January 13, 2019
Me, My Heart, and I :: Experiencing more beauty every day

It’s only recently that I understood how to deepen my experience of the beauty around me. I used to look at something and immediately judge it as beautiful or not. I either focused on it or looked away. When I sit in a garden, walk through Florence’s streets and piazzas, or stroll along the Arno, I try to consciously keep my heart open and breathe my surroundings into my heart. It’s a delight to to revel in the beauty of a single flower, a pathway, or even sunlight beaming through the trees. I am always amazed at how something that pleases my eye can fill me with so much joy that my heart bursts open.

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Monday, December 31, 2018
Me, My Heart, and I :: Endings and beginnings

As 2019 is about to begin, I feel an excitement and a lightness that I haven’t felt in quite a while. It’s not a feeling that comes and goes; it’s a feeling that is solid within me. I experienced some upheaval these past few years, which initially I thought was a curse, but now have come to realize that it was a blessing. If someone would have told me that my entire life would be turned upside down, everything and everyone removed from it, and that I would rebuild a more solid life based in love, I wouldn’t have believed them. But it happened.

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Friday, November 9, 2018
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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Tuesday, August 22, 2017
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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Wednesday, May 3, 2017
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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