Guest Blog by Jennifer Barclay, author of Falling in Honey

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Hello Sunshine! Today's a very special day because I have a very special guest blog for you. This guest post is by Jennifer Barclay, author of Falling in Honey: How a Tiny Greek Island Stole My Heart. As you read, you'd get a sneak on how her book started with a simple realization... that in love, you have to take care of yourself too.
Jennifer Barclay is the author of Falling in Honey: How a Tiny Greek Island Stole My Heart, and has a blog about Greek island life at www.octopus-in-my-ouzo.blogspot.com.

"The best things in life are the gifts we give ourselves."




A few years ago, as I was approaching a big birthday, finally my life seemed to be coming together. It had taken me long enough, but at last I was settling into year two with a boyfriend who was kind and honest; I got along well with his family, who had welcomed me with open arms. I’d bought an apartment and had a good job, but he and I were also talking about moving somewhere beautiful together, maybe trying to start a family of our own.

Then he changed his mind.

What? I wanted to press rewind, but it wasn’t an option. He was moving on, in a different direction.
I, meanwhile, fell apart at the seams. For a few months, I was miserable. I had lost my love of life, but desperately wanted to get it back.

Gradually, I realised this wasn’t just about him. It was about those plans we’d made together. Although I’d thought I was contented before, in fact I was in a rut, and needed to get out of it. I needed to take control, replace the plans I’d made with him, and come up with my own: decide what would make me really happy, now there was only myself to please. And that’s how the giving gifts to myself began. I needed to be good to myself.


Firstly, I had to put relationships on hold until I’d got strong again. 

The power that came from staying single – waking up knowing my heart wasn’t going to be broken anytime soon – took me by surprise.With my so-called Vow of Celibacy, I felt like a warrior princess, deflecting dangers with my warrior sword.

Work also had to change. However good a job it was, it was all-consuming. I felt stuck in a never-ending cycle and knew I’d never find time to pursue my writing goals the way things were going.

So my second gift to myself was Freelance Fridays: cutting back my job to four days to give me time for personal projects. 

I could live without money in my bank account for a while. Better to invest in my future.


The third gift was also about having time to myself, but in a more indulgent way. 

Holidays on Greek islands always made me happy. I’d been to so many islands since I was a teenager, and the one or two week vacation always left me feeling great and wanting more. Would it be possible to go for longer – a month?Two weeks of holiday and two weeks working from there, thanks to the joys of technology?

My boss took a little convincing, but finally I had a month on a Greek island to look forward to. A month to swim in the sea, walk in the hills, sit in the brilliant, warm sunshine… and importantly, think about who I was and what I wanted to do next with my life.

Those ‘gifts to self’ really turned my life around. I got strong again and decided what to do; not what was sensible or expected, but what felt right for me. The taste of freedom, working from home on a sunny Greek island, showed me the way forward.


I’ve just given myself a bowl of creamy Greek yoghurt with thyme honey poured over it… The honey was made in the village where I now live, on the Greek island of Tilos. In a while I will shut down my computer and take my lovely Labrador, Lisa, for a walk to the sea.

My book Falling in Honey is the story about how this became my life. It’s about heartbreak and love and the very bumpy journey to get here. We all have challenges to face. The ones I faced during those years ended up pushing me to do what I’d always wanted.
I used to have recurring dreams of Greek islands, especially in winter when things looked bleak: I’d dream that I was walking in sunshine on a hillside with deep blue, crystal clear water below, and a whitewashed village above. Now, the simple lifestyle and stunning landscapes of the Greek islands are not my dream, but my life.

Those three things I gave myself back in that dark time weren’t really three at all – they were one: the belief that I had the power to make life better, to do what I wanted, shape my own future, not follow the obvious path.

I got my mojo back on a tiny Greek island with the help of a starfish and an octopus or two.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the beach.

Thank you Jennifer! We salute you for sharing your insights. I hope your book inspires more people to also give gifts to themselves too so they may realize great things that they can make of their hopes and dreams as well.

Want to guest blog? Email a proposal to kumikomae@gmail.com


Photos were provided by the writer.

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