Eat, Pray, Love and Celebrating a Beginning

August 25, 2010

in Life Lessons, Naked Girl Reads

The year-long journey ends in Bali.

Eat, Pray, Love is a memoir about a year in Elizabeth Gilbert’s life following her divorce. It is a search to find herself so that she can find balance in her life. This balance will open up for Ms. Gilbert peace, happiness, joy, and freedom.

At the time Eat, Pray, Love was published, my life was filled with working 9-3 daily while the kids were in school, cooking elaborate dinners almost daily, caring for the kids, entertaining regularly in my home, saying yes to every volunteer request received, socializing regularly on weekends, and more. My life leading up to my separation was so filled with activities that I had not a moment to spare. This allowed me to avoid reflection. I was constantly tired, unhappy, and stressed.

Recently I picked up my copy of Eat, Pray, Love. I decided, with the movie released in theaters, that it would be a good idea to re-read the book. I wondered if I would gain insight from a different perspective as I am nearing my divorce with my 20 year anniversary days away. I noticed that I had turned down pages containing important passages to me; content I wanted to turn to again for guidance and inspiration. I realize now how desperately I was in search of balance in my life. I was on a quest to grab on to what Ms. Gilbert was discovering as she took a year to travel to Italy, India, and Bali. Ms. Gilbert’s memoir, her journey to self-discovery, was my how-to guide 4 years ago.

Flipping through the book and recognizing where I was in my life four years ago and realizing I am on my own journey now, I knew seeing the movie on my anniversary was essential. So, I called AC to ask her if she would go out to dinner and a movie.  AC asked, “Are you sure you want to see a movie about a marriage ending on your twenty year anniversary Kelly?” I disagreed with AC.

Eat, Pray, Love is not about a marriage ending; it is about a life beginning.

Yes, this is what I wanted to do on August 24th this year. I wanted nothing more than to be absorbed by Elizabeth Gilbert’s year-long journey around the world to discover herself. I wanted to enjoy a great meal with AC , have a good conversation, and celebrate our friendship. I also wanted  to spend the evening watching a woman rebound in life after a messy divorce.

As I re-read Eat, Pray, Love, I have a fresh perspective and it is helping me in a different way this time. The pages turned down are still meaningful to me and now, four years later, new pages are being turned down for future guidance. The story resonates in a new way as my life has changed drastically.

In the book Ms. Gilbert describes her thought on the balance between fate and free will.

“Man is neither entirely a puppet of the gods, nor is he entirely the captain of his own destiny; he’s a little of both…I can decide how I spend my time, whom I interact with, whom I share my body and life and money and energy with. I can select what I eat and read and study. I can choose how I’m going to regard unfortunate circumstances in life–whether I will see them as curses or opportunities (and on the occasions when I can’t rise to the most optimistic viewpoint, because I’m feeling too damn sorry for myself, I can choose to keep trying to change my outlook). I can choose my words and the tone of voice in which I speak to others. And most of all, I can choose my thoughts.”

Yes, we all make choices in life and, as I wrote on Monday, I can choose to endure or enjoy my 20 year anniversary.

I chose to enjoy it.

And, Eat, Pray, Love could be viewed as a memoir about the end of a marriage, but I choose to believe it is about the beginning of a life.

Attraversiamo


{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Michele August 25, 2010 at 12:45 pm

This is a really beautiful post. I can say that even after writing somewhat disparagingly about the book of my blog–but my beef is with the life that the book has taken on its own. You describe perfectly its organic effect on people. And I am also planning to see the movie with one of my girlfriends. I think there’s something about this idea of a journey that speaks to women, even those that may have not been in a situation such as yours. I think it allows you to reevaluate things and also reconnect with friends and form even stronger bonds. Happy Anniversary…to your new life :)

Reply

Naked Girl in a Dress August 25, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Michele,

I agree with you that Eat, Pray, Love speaks to women, regardless of their marital status. I embraced the basic concept of finding a balance in my life before I separated, hoping to find a bit of peace as a result. I am still on that journey, but so much has happened in the last 4 years. I am looking at life differently now.

The book did take on a life of it’s own and Ms. Gilbert was overwhelmed by the success. She writes about it in the opening of her latest book.

Reply

Michele August 26, 2010 at 3:39 pm

I am actually really anxious to read her next book. I also saw her speech for the TED conference, where she talked about the idea of genius–something that was prompted by the overwhelming success of EPL and how she could possibly match her success ever again. It’s about a twenty minute talk, but well worth watching :)

Reply

Naked Girl in a Dress August 26, 2010 at 9:46 pm

Michele,

I started reading her latest book and loved it. I put it down and didn’t finish it, but it is on my list to start again and actually finish. I hit a rough spot and didn’t want to read about commitment. Otherwise I would not have stopped reading it. It is very different from E,P,L though. Just so you know.

T August 25, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Love that book.

It is what inspired my blog.

Enjoy your moments.
T recently posted..Trust MeMy Profile

Reply

Naked Girl in a Dress August 25, 2010 at 1:51 pm

It is a wonderful book!

Reply

Bonnie B Matheson August 25, 2010 at 1:25 pm

OH yes! I know how you feel. You will notice I did NOT say “exactly” how you feel. We all approach the end of a marriage differently. We all heal at different rates.

I believe that Eat, Pray, Love was one woman’s journey, not for everyone. I have heard comments from women still in marriages, who felt that she was selfish and self indulgent. Not everyone loved the book or the movie. And I believe it is much better understood by those who have traveled the path of divorce than those who have not.

I have written about this book from a different perspective on http://www.bonniebmatheson.com

As a woman much older than you ( because my marriage lasted 42 years.) I have a slightly different take on it. But then after so many years, perhaps it took me longer to sort it all out.

My life’s purpose these days is to inspire women in the second half of life. Show them, by my own example and the lives of others that it can actually be absolutely wonderful to be living on one’s own. Doing things to help women who may not have an example of the good things that can come out of a divorce, gives my life purpose and pleasure.

Reply

Naked Girl in a Dress August 25, 2010 at 1:52 pm

Bonnie,

Thank you for sharing your perspective and a link to your site.

Reply

clyde August 25, 2010 at 2:22 pm

ok, so I read the book. A dear friend indicated that I was her “Richard from Texas”, I reminded her that I was “Clyde from Carolina”. Now,after reading the book, that feels like a great compliment. I liked the story because she was real and on a her journey of self discovery.

So my wife and I, saw the movie together. And yes I was the only guy in the movie.

Reply

Naked Girl in a Dress August 25, 2010 at 10:16 pm

Clyde,

Oh, I can see you being like Richard! And it is a compliment.

Reply

molly campbell August 25, 2010 at 3:28 pm

So sorry to read about your marriage ending,but I have certainly learned that life is a journey, and we learn every step of the way. I have not read this book, because it seemed that everyone was reading it, and I like to be “different.” However, I am now going to put it on my Kindle, based on your recommendation! molly
molly campbell recently posted..HERE COMES THE SONMy Profile

Reply

Naked Girl in a Dress August 25, 2010 at 10:15 pm

Molly~

I hope you enjoy the book. See the movie too!

Reply

Jen August 25, 2010 at 4:14 pm

Oh that book!! I love love love it! It moved me on so many levels. I first read it about a year after my divorce. While I will spare your blog readers the blah state that I was in post-marriage, you are quite aware of what I was fighting emotionally…that book did wonders for my soul. I can’t wait to see it unfold on the big screen!
Enjoy Sister Sue

Reply

Kristy August 25, 2010 at 4:16 pm

Yes, we are all from different perspectives. This book/movie has really caused a lot of conversation! Which is a fabulous thing.
http://www.pampersandpinot.com

Reply

The Urban Cowboy August 25, 2010 at 10:40 pm

I always wanted to dress up as a woman, fly to Italy, drink wine and…err… never mind.

Glad you took a proactive stance and consciously decided to enjoy yourself during this emotionally difficult time in your life. You’re right, we can choose how, and what events affects us.
The Urban Cowboy recently posted..Haiku Heights- FestivalMy Profile

Reply

Ash August 26, 2010 at 1:10 pm

I fought and fought the advice to read this book. Once a publication hits “Oprah’s” must list, it usually goes off mine. I can’t explain it. Maybe I’m a rebel?

I finally decided to acquiesce because I knew I wanted to see the movie. Confession: LOVED it. Loved the freedom in it, the religious aspect of it, the depth. I didn’t see her as selfish. I saw her as a powerful woman who wasn’t willing to roll over and accept “good enough” for her life. A lesson for any woman (IMO), no matter the status of their marriage, or lack there of, really.

Good for you for taking the day by the, ahem, collar and making it your own.

(desperately trying to catch up with all your wonderful posts!!)
Ash recently posted..So- you guys knew I’d have yet another story…My Profile

Reply

Naked Girl in a Dress August 26, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Ash,

I agree with you about Oprah’s list. When she started her book club many years ago, I read two and found them to be the most depressing books. I just gave up.

It is interesting that some find her selfish because I don’t believe she is either. The woman left her husband because she was miserable. I am so glad she created the opportunity for herself to travel around the world for a year. Would she be selfless if she remained married to a man she didn’t love and bring children into the world? Who are we to judge how Ms. Gilbert wants to define herself? She ultimately did her husband a favor if she was not in love with him. He deserved to be loved fully and unconditionally, as did Ms. Gilbert. And, I believe she found that love with Philippe.

OK, getting down from the soapbox!

Thanks for commenting Ash!

Reply

Alana @ Domestically Challenged August 26, 2010 at 1:26 pm

This is a great post and here’s why:
Eat, Pray, Love is not about a marriage ending; it is about a life beginning.

You have such a wonderful attitude and outlook. Bravo!

Reply

Naked Girl in a Dress August 28, 2010 at 11:48 am

Thank you Alana. It is a much better way to look at life from a positive perspective.

Reply

Texan Mama August 27, 2010 at 5:02 pm

After reading your thoughts, I find myself wondering, did you have to get divorced in order to find that balance, or did the two events just coincide? Was the marriage causing you imbalance? If so, was it because of the institution of marriage, or was it because of the particular person to whom you were married?

I ask because my perspective is so different – it is only through my marriage to my husband that I have found balance. when he’s not here I feel completely up-ended. Our marriage and his presence in my life has caused me to face inner demons that I was avoiding, be honest with myself and others, and see life from more than one perspective (the one that’s not my own!)

I hope you continue to keep the balance in your life that you’ve attained now. You sound really happy.
Texan Mama recently posted..Dont Get OffendedMy Profile

Reply

Barb August 27, 2010 at 6:22 pm

I unintentionally was reading Eat, Pray, Love when the last straw of my marriage was broken. It was most definitely a very significant book for me. It gave me a boost of confidence and I remember it fondly!

Reply

Grace August 28, 2010 at 9:41 am

I love, love, love that book. It had a profound impact on my life when I read it three years ago.

And you’re right — it’s not about a marriage ending. It’s about re-creating the life of your dreams. That’s exactly why it was so appealing to me when I read it three months after my divorce was final. I felt like Elizabeth Gilbert was talking directly to me in those pages.

I hope your “20th anniversary” was a good day. You sound so strong lately!
Grace recently posted..Lizard Licking and a Hideous HoneymoonMy Profile

Reply

Naked Girl in a Dress August 28, 2010 at 11:50 am

Grace,

It was a good day. I loved sharing and focusing on these three friends instead of me and my divorce. I shed a lot of tears that day, but it was a happy day.

I am enjoying re-reading this book at this stage in my life and see so much in a different perspective now.

Reply

Kimberly Gioioso September 3, 2010 at 4:02 pm

I have really enjoyed reading your blog. I also chose to blog about my own version of eat, pray, love for my followers as well. http://threehautemamas.typepad.com/blog/2010/08/eat-shop-love-pray-im-stuck-at-shop.html

Reply

Naked Girl in a Dress September 3, 2010 at 4:44 pm

Kimberly~

Thank you for reading my blog! I am heading to your blog now to read what you wrote about Eat, Pray, Love.

I hope you will come by again soon.

Reply

C.mom October 16, 2010 at 11:36 am

I love this perspective on the book! I also read the book when I was separating, it was a story or a perspective that helped me through the harder days.

Reply

Style Maniac October 16, 2010 at 12:34 pm

“I can decide whom I share my energy with” … yes, yes, yes. Just the perspective I needed this week.
Style Maniac recently posted..THE CATs MEOWMy Profile

Reply

Naked Girl in a Dress October 16, 2010 at 3:05 pm

I am so glad this resonated for you.

Reply

Trifriend January 7, 2011 at 12:19 am

I’m just catching up on posts but ironically I was reading that book when you wrote this. I emailed a friend the EXACT same passage you quoted. The book was a reminder that we can actually take control over our own lives without carrying subsequent guilt over it. We owe it to our children to be happy so that we have more of our true selves to offer them. It gave hope that the happiness and future love can exist, we just need to find the resources within ourselves to make it happen.

Reply

Naked Girl in a Dress January 7, 2011 at 10:47 am

Trifriend,

I agree; we owe it to our children to be happy. I believe I am a better mom now than when I was overwhelmed and consumed with the difficulties in my marriage. I have more to give my children now and I am so grateful for that.

Reply

alysonsblog May 18, 2011 at 1:23 pm

I too believe that endings are actually opportunities for new beginnings, in the last 5 years I am grabbing all my endings and making the life I wanted not looking through the window at someone else living it.. good look with your new beginnings I think your outlook on life means that your beginnings will have opportunity and sunshine xx

Reply

Naked Girl in a Dress May 18, 2011 at 8:28 pm

Alyson,

Thank you for the kind words–opportunity and sunshine are two wonderful wishes to bestow upon me!

Sometimes I feel like pinching myself because I am so happy. Coming off of a few really difficult years, I deserve this.

Glad to hear you are reinventing your life too. I can’t wait to learn more about it through you blog. I am so glad I met you through Studio30 Plus.

Reply

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

Previous post:

Next post: