The book Falling in Honey captures life and love on a Greek island

“If you knew you only have one year to live, how would you live it?”

– Jennifer Barclay, Falling in Honey; Life and love on a Greek island

Have you ever dreamed of packing up and moving to a Greek island? Author Jennifer Barclay did just that and shared her experience in her book, Falling in Honey, Life and Love on a Greek Island. A pleasure to read, Falling in Honey traces Jennifer’s journey of following her dream and moving to the small Greek island of Tilos.

Now, for me, I find that whatever book I am reading at any given time will often shape what I am experiencing in my own life, usually by changing my perspective in some way. So it was with Falling in Honey, which I was reading during my not-so-dreamy Christmas vacation at my home on not-so-small Vancouver Island a couple of years ago. My elderly mom had come to visit me and needed a lot of help, and then my elderly dog ​​collapsed and needed even more help.

So when it came time to collapse in bed (my couch rather) at night and read a chapter or two of Falling in Honey, I was able to temporarily put the fact that my seriously ill dog was in an emergency and my son was immobile. Weirdly hungry, demanding mother was in my bed. But escaping from one’s own reality can only go so far.

Because while reading about tzatziki and spanikopita, the warm sandy beaches and refreshing baths in the sea soothed my soul for a very exhausting time, it also made me think about … well, thoughts, and how important the role is. They play to determine whether or not we are in a dream or a nightmare at any given time in our lives.

If I haven’t learned anything else in this life thus far, I’ve learned this: happiness is a choice, a state of mind, versus a guaranteed result that comes from making a change in one’s external circumstances. And yet many people, myself included, are known to fantasize about how happy they would be if they lived somewhere else, with someone else, doing something else.

And fair enough: maybe they would.

But it’s also fair to say that regardless of where we live, life’s trials and tribulations continue to occur. They do it for me, here in my little seaside bungalow … and they certainly did it for Jennifer on her pretty rocky path to serenity. As such, I wouldn’t say that Falling in Honey is a reader’s escape from reality. Rather, I think the book contains a deeper and more universally relevant message: Home is where your heart is, and if you can’t find the true treasure you’re looking for in your own backyard, you probably won’t be able to find it anywhere else.

What may need to change first is how you live your life versus where you live it.

It turned out that Jennifer’s heart was on the island of Tilos, with or without a special boy in her life. And because of this, Falling in Honey manages to provide exquisite examples of how to experience the joyous simplicities that the slower pace of island life can offer: shopping for local food, preparing delicious meals, taking long walks, reading in the sun, contemplating. the sunset. … basically slowing down enough to savor the simple pleasures of everyday life instead of rushing through the day at breakneck speed.

In fact, the more I read about Falling in Honey, the more I started to salivate, both from the tantalizing descriptions of fresh tomatoes, basil, and feta cheese drizzled with olive oil and from the warm pita bread drenched in homemade tzatziki and the delicious sensation. of the serenity that Jennifer’s writing about life on the island evoked.

But then one night, I put the book down, sat down, and looked around my living room, and shook my head. Wait a minute here, I thought: I live on an island. Simpler life at a slower pace had my reason for moving here in the first place. I had also dreamed of being a writer by the sea, although the Pacific versus the Mediterranean.

But the sea is the sea and writing is writing … and since they are both tremendous teachers, obviously I was not a very astute student. Externally, it had all the necessary conditions for inner peace. Internally, my stress level indicated that I might as well be an investment banker in Manhattan.

For guidance, I turned once again to another author and pulled out my copy of Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s classic, Gift from the Sea.

“Simplifying the outer life is not enough,” Anne reminded me. “It is simply the outside … a path to grace. The final answer is always on the inside.”

Ahhh yes. Although my heart was on Sidney by the Sea, my mind was obviously still struggling to keep up with the slower paced program. And that’s okay: awareness is an important first step. I am learning that changing or accepting yourself does not happen overnight.

“Patience, patience, patience is what the sea teaches.”

    Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift of the sea

For me, the most beautiful of Falling into honey This is how Jennifer made the change in her life that she knew she had to make, and finding the courage to do it, she fell in love with life all over again. And that’s what I did also when I moved to Sydney.

But falling in love with life is like falling in love with honey: As sweet as it is, sometimes you get so caught up in the details that you lose sight of the big picture.

Reading Falling in Honey, and writing about it, helped divert my perspective from focusing solely on the current situation, quite sticky, by reminding me to see it for what it really was: a small but stressful bump in the longest road of life I have. chosen to take.

It may not be a surprise that Jennifer and I have an interesting story together. She was my first editor of my book, The awakening of a widow. Jennifer patiently taught me how to write creative nonfiction. Although we never met in person in all the years we worked together, she painstakingly helped me transform my manuscript from the shattered ramblings of a heartbroken widow into a compelling story.

So I now return to Jennifer’s poignant question in the opening quote of this article: If you knew that you only have one year to live, how would you live it?

Well, since I finally realized that how we spend our days is how we spend our lives, my answer is simple, but not easy: with tremendous gratitude for all that I already have.