Island Wise: Lessons in Living from the Islands of the World

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9780767912044: Island Wise: Lessons in Living from the Islands of the World
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Many of us long to escape the dreariness of our daily lives for the balmy weather, fresh air, and bright sunshine of the world’s islands—those almost magical places whose distance from the mainland has the power to distance us from our normal cares. Island Wise transports you to these far-off shores to reveal what makes island life so appealing—and shows you how to invoke the inimitable island sense of tranquility, simplicity and joie de vivre every day.

From the Bahamas to Prince Edward Island, Canada, author Janis Frawley-Holler explores twenty-five of the world’s most beguiling islands, introducing the natural wonders, ancient traditions, musical rhythms, and everyday practices that make each seaborne locale utterly unique. Her charming vignettes also share each culture’s simple recipes for leading life at a slower pace, focusing on what really matters, charting your heart’s desires, enriching personal relationships, and cultivating a deep sense of purpose and meaning. Whether you’re dreaming of an island getaway or looking to retain your post-vacation glow, Island Wise proves that “island-wise” living is not about location—it’s simply a state of mind that makes life sweeter wherever you are.

Jamaica · Borneo · Prince Edward Island · Nassau · Crete · Anegada · Key West, Florida · Sark · St. Honorat · Oahu, Hawaii · Hong Kong · Santa Catalina Island, California · Likiep Atoll · Isla Santa Magdalena, Baja California · Chincoteague Island, Virginia · Terceira · Cuba · Baranoff Island, Alaska · Taha’a · Jost Van Dyke · The Galapagos Islands · St. Lucia · Sjaelland · Seguin Island, Maine · Bimini

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About the Author:

Janis Frawley-Holler is the travel and style editor of Florida’s awarding winning Sarasota Magazine and is a frequent contributor to Islands Magazine. Her work has also appeared in Travel and Leisure, Family Circle, Spa Magazine, Cruising World, and Sailing World.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Set Your Clock to Island Time

Those of us struck by island fever yearn to live on island time--those delectable, unhurried days where even the surf seems to drift effortlessly ashore and those long arching fronds of coconut palms sway in a slow, sensual dance on the mildest of sea breezes. We fantasize about living as islanders do, envying their light and leisurely approach to each day, their patience with themselves, others, and the world in general.

Living on island time is something we envy because, in our mainland worlds, we travel at a dizzying pace, determined to keep up with the pack; we rush through stress-filled, jam-packed schedules with no thought of pausing to appreciate the quietly magical details of our lives. The whispers of our inner voice go unheeded, yet leave us with a gnawing sense that life is not meant to be lived as a race against time. So we are drawn to islands--those perfect spots that give us permission to drop out, slow down, and rejuvenate to their patient, waltzing rhythm.

Island time is the very soul of island life. From the hot, steamy jungles of Borneo to the snow-capped mountainous isles of Alaska's Inside Passage, islanders know how to live in step with their own innate tempo--a pace that fosters an ease of attitude, a warm feeling about life, a knack for delighting in simple pleasures, and time to tarry in precious places with cherished people. They see no merit in living weighted down by anxiety, urgency, and stress, for they learned long ago the lesson of Aesop's Tortoise and the Hare fable: "Slow and steady wins."

My husband says I'm a "steadfast tortoise," a name I relish because being an island-style woman blesses me with inclinations to linger and appreciate the good all around me, to stop and think things through and stay true to who I am.

When we visited the isle of Crete, one of my personal goals was to hike the Samaria Gorge, the longest gorge in Europe. In the darkness of early morning, we boarded a tour bus filled with Germans and Scandinavians for the long ride up into the mountains as the trail (which takes six to seven hours to hike) steeply descends from the peaks of the White Mountains down to the Libyan Sea.

The minute we got off the bus--swooooosh!--the other hikers were off at such a manic clip that they left us, literally, in their dust. We walked on slowly because, looking up at the magical beauty of the mountains in the colors of dawn, we were struck with awe. It was a sight I doubt any of the other travelers had even noticed.

"If we don't speed up a bit," Darrel said after a while, "I'm afraid we'll miss the boat back to our hotel."

It was difficult, however, to speed up because with every few steps there was more and more beauty to relish: hot pink oleanders growing in the wild, Cretan "forest rangers" descending the trail on donkeys, ruins of ancient villages poised along banks of peaceful streams. We snapped pictures of artsy afternoon shadows on the rocky sides of cliffs and zigzagged across rushing waters atop massive boulders. The gorge was a never-ending masterpiece of more natural beauty than we had ever imagined, and we took the time to savor every new marvel.

And the hikers? It's a funny thing. We caught up with them each time they stopped for a cigarette break and passed them by so many times throughout the hike that I lost count. It was truly a day of the Tortoise and the Hare, for after seven hours of steady progress, we "tortoises" were among the first to arrive at the sea where the boat awaited. Our prize for hiking on island time was a treasured collection of memories highlighting some of Mother Nature's best works, lots of photos to add to our ever-growing scrapbook, and much healthier lungs!

Living on island time doesn't require us to pack up and move to our own most beloved isle. It's so much easier than that, for no matter where we live, we can simply choose to slow down and relish life. It's important to realize that this way of being doesn't encompass a lazy lifestyle, nor does it breed irresponsibility. Island time is simply about eliminating haste, chewing slowly to appreciate tastes, avoiding "too-timers" (too much TV, too many too-long phone calls, too much obsessing about work, etc.), and it's never ever equating time with "pressure." It is recognizing that time isn't the traitor of our day--the true archenemy is how we view the seconds, schedule the minutes, and live the hours. It's realizing that time can, indeed, be on our side, just by taking a deep breath and believing that the "time of your life" is truly a gift to be used in an island-wise way.

When we begin to break old habits of sprinting through life, it feels awkward, even foreign, at first. After a particularly harried few months, I sought solace in the serene aura of Paradise Island in the Bahamas. Yet after three days of doing nothing but yoga and taking long walks on the beach, I found myself feeling very emotional and off balance. I happened to run into a yogi who gave me an explanation:

"Think of yourself as a child's top spinning at such a high rate of speed every moment of the day that it's impossible to stay connected with yourself--with who you are and what you truly want. When the top begins to slow down, it starts to wobble. The slower it goes, the greater the wobble, until it breathes a sigh of relief and settles into its resting place. It's the eventual discovery of this peaceful place which is the ultimate gift of slowing down."

As you begin to find your own island-wise way of being, remember that setting your clock to island time is the most important step. It is the universal prescription that comes from all healing islands, from the Caribbean to the South China Sea. Living at a slower pace changes us. We're able to think logically and independently, remember our manners, distinguish right from wrong, and realize what is truly important in life. Slowing down allows us to go with the flow of life rather than always feeling as though we're swimming upstream. On island time we adopt the words of islander William Shakespeare as our model: "Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast."

Taha'a, the Tahitian Islands

adopt natural pleasures

It's impossible to get up on the wrong side of the bed when you awaken each morning in a Garden of Eden encircled by a lagoon of calm waters graduating in color from a rich deep blue to a shimmering opal as it shallows up to the shore. The island's homesteads rest, relaxed and quiet, between the lagoon and the peaks and valleys of the mountains towering over it all in majestic green.

Curtains of bright colors float on the breeze, in and out of the unscreened window openings of the modest homes that look

out to yards so stunning they could be mistaken for botanical gardens. They're overabundant in the natural beauty of ultratropical trees--banana (of all kinds), breadfruit, mango, papaya, avocado, and grapefruit--and of flowers and shrubs ablaze in color--red and pastel pink gingers, multicolored crotons, snow-white gardenias, deep-pink frangipani, and every other tropical flower you can imagine. It's a vision, the kind we all fantasize about; it's Taha'a, an off-the-beaten-path island of Tahiti, shaped just like a hibiscus flower.

Edwin and his wife Jacqueline welcomed me, eager to share the best of their island's ways. He was playing a ukulele and singing a dreamy South Seas tune, decked out in freshly picked flowers woven into a crown around his head, a necklace of local shells hand carved into a big, bold chiefly design, and a colorful floor-length pareo wrapped and tied beneath his belly. Jacqueline, whose hat was encircled in a woven band of extra-fragrant double gardenias and deep-pink and pale-yellow lantanas, wore a brilliant blue-and-yellow-flowered floor-length dress.

Their four-wheel-drive was prettied up with flowers, too--a string of gardenias lined the dashboard and flowers were braided up the support braces of the canopy that shaded the back seating. Jacqueline offered me a snow-white tiare, the flower of Tahiti, to tuck behind my left ear (the married ear), which made me feel as special as a little girl playing dress up. Its natural, soft scent blessed me, and soothed me, for the rest of the day.

"The one thing you'll discover," an Australian who married into a Taha'an family said, "is that the people love to surround themselves in beauty and color every moment of the day. They look to nature to do that."

We were off, traveling a carless road that wound into the mountains, surrounded the whole way in tropical fantasy: forests abloom in hundreds of flowers of brilliant hues and the marvelous shapes of the gigantic leaves of heliconia, elephant ears, and white birds of paradise--tropically lush in their climb up the slopes. Cows and horses lazily grazed near rushing streams winding through coconut plantations; outriggers lay idle in the lagoon below, and, beyond, the thatched-roof huts of the black-pearl farmers stood guardian over the water.

When we stopped way up high near a mountaintop, it was a South Seas dream come alive: young men and women, clad in brilliant pareos and adorned in flowers (worn as crowns, leis, or tucked in their hair) sliced fresh papaya, mango, and green grapefruit, which they arranged with tiny bananas on trays artfully covered in folded banana leaves accented in red hibiscus. It was a scene that would have inspired Paul Gauguin to take out his brushes and paint the day away.

The men opened green coconuts with one island-style blow of their machetes, whacking off the tops to offer refreshing drinks of coconut water; then they opened the ripe coconuts, quickly grating the fresh sweet meat against a stick stuck in the ground. The girls sprinkled it over the papaya, made neat little mounds next to the bananas, and encouraged me to follow their lead. I broke off bite-sized pieces of the nutty-flavored bananas, pushed them int...

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9781417722174: Island Wise: Lessons in Living from the Islands of the World

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ISBN 10:  1417722177 ISBN 13:  9781417722174
Publisher: San Val, 2003

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