I am biased. No doubt. You'll find most Greeks are. There is an affinity we hold for each other. Meet someone and find out they too share your heritage and you are already friends. As a child it drove me crazy. My father would point out this person and that person who had achieved some notoriety and add with great pride, a wink and a smile, "You know, Joanne, he's Greek." As if no matter what they had to say, whether I agreed with their view or not, it didn't matter, because now we were bound.
I didn't understand it. I found it lacking in judgment. Shouldn't we know more about the person than just that their last name is equally difficult to pronounce much less spell for the average person? But now I get it. In these last months since I released my novel, I have reached out to Greeks as far and wide as Australia and have felt that bond and connection that I chastised my father about. As an adult, I too have fallen into his rhythm. I meet someone who I discover has genetic ties to Greece and I do as my friend Agapi would say, unbind my heart a little more easily.
I'm not sure the reason, because in all honesty, just being Greek is not enough to want to call someone your friend. But I do think there is something different for Greeks. Maybe it goes back to the long illustrious history, the philosophers and astronomers and great mathematicians of ancient Greece or my favorite, the Greek Gods and Goddesses. It is different to be Greek. A flavor that is more unique than just the combination of nuts and honey and cinnamon that create a baklava. It's a different brand of wisdom influenced by a culture that has stood the test of time.
Which brings me back to my friend Agapi Stassinopoulous. I met Agapi this past summer in San Diego at a conference I attended where Agapi spoke. I liked her immediately. Not just because she was Greek, although there is no doubt that was our immediate point of connection, but because it was obvious from how she spoke and her energy that this was a woman who lived authentically and joyously and with an open heart. I learned of her new book which would soon be published and was honored when she asked me to read a galley copy.
When you read another's writing, whether it is fiction, or in the case of Unbinding the Heart, A Dose of Greek Wisdom, Generosity and Unconditional Love, a memoir, you learn a lot about the person. You can tell authentic writing from pretending to be authentic. You can tell the difference from someone who walks from what they speak or who prefers to merely point you on the path they think you should travel.
Agapi in Greek means unconditional love, and that is what you will feel when you read this memoir. Her love for life, and for helping others jumps off the pages as she entertains and enlightens with her insight and subtle humor. Agapi is the real deal. She writes of living with an open heart and she demonstrates it, never negating how the world wants to make that difficult. Reading this memoir you will feel like she has invited you to sit with her awhile under the shade of an umbrella at one of those beautiful outdoor cafes in Santorini, nibbling on fresh feta and tomatoes, sipping a glass of wine, with that magical blue of the Aegean as a backdrop for the stories she shares of her journey thus far.
So yes, if this sounds biased it is. But my bias is supported by this captivating read. Unbinding The Heart, A Dose of Greek Wisdom, Generosity and Love, is now available for sale. I encourage you to pick up a copy. You will not be disappointed.