Best Selling Book: How I Wrote My Own Eat, Pray, Love Story

eat pray love book cover
When my friend Reggie gave me a copy of the book Eat, Pray, Love, I was thirty-five years old, going through a painful divorce, terrified, depressed, and thinking that what I really wanted was to travel the world…

Just like Elizabeth Gilbert. Oh my God, I thought. This is my life!

Elizabeth Gilbert was funny, neurotic, ambitious, adventurous, a spiritual seeker on a confused quest.

She, like me, loved Italian food, words and men. The way she described their liquid chocolate eyes that melt her — Oooooooh.

I get it, I thought. Italian men = hot.

She, like me, was learning to meditate and had a guru in India that she felt called to follow (mine was Sathya Sai Baba, the “unconditional love guru” with the giant afro, but a guru’s a guru, right?).

She, like me, fell head over heels in love with someone else soon after her marriage ended. She dove.

I plunged into love, headfirst (no just “dipping in the toes” for me).

She, like me, met a medicine man in Bali who predicted she would return there someday … Okay, so maybe that isn’t quite true and this is where our similarities end.

I haven’t been to Bali, yet.

My journey took me around the Middle East and Mediterranean Europe instead, seeking joy, love, peace, serenity.

  • Seeking something.
  • Seeking happiness.
  • Seeking myself.

The Book I Wish I’d Written!

I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought this after reading Eat, Pray, Love. But I thought, “My God I wish I’d written this book… This is my story too! I am this woman!”

Reading the book gave me the courage to take the journey I’d been dreaming of taking — two months traveling by myself in Jordan, the U.A.E., Turkey, Greece, Italy and Spain.

What recently divorced woman wouldn’t want to be chased around piazzas (and yes, that’s piazzas, not pizzas!) in Roma by handsome Italian men with olive skin, chiseled features, and those liquid eyes. Sigh…

I too ate a whole pizza. I too marveled over the language.

I too meditated.

Lisa meditating Eat Pray Love style

Now, I didn’t have a Brazilian lover show up at the end of my trip to whisk me away to a remote island on a boat. If that is what constitutes a happy ending, I’m still waiting on mine.

Committing to Writing My Own Journey Story…

What I did decide is that I would write my own Eat, Pray, Love story, a redemption story of a woman who moved from suicidal depression in my early 20s to joy and peace in my late 30s.

My story is not the same as Liz Gilbert’s in the beginning of the book. I was raped, I was stalked and someone I loved dearly died, long before I ever got married.  I plummeted into the black hole of despair in my early 20s, climbed out, shut the manhole cover and vowed never to go there again. And I didn’t.

Yet life is more complicated and more rich than I was ready to admit. I thought I could “bury” my past, just forget about it.

But I had panic attacks. Night sweats. Reliving the terror of the nights when I thought my life would end.  I  had to find my own way to peace, and for me, this involved some travels, some teachers, and some just pure…. Being.

Doing nothing.

Letting myself learn to let go for once of all my worldly ambitions.

And Slowly The World Turns

Slowly, slowly, slowly I went from barely being able to sit still without twitching to working my way up to an hour of meditation a day (I now do a half an hour a day).

Slowly, slowly, slowly I learned to treat myself as a friend and not an enemy, talking to myself like I would talk to a loved one, versus viciously excoriating myself for my lack of perfection.  I used to be so mean to myself!

Slowly, slowly, slowly I learned to embrace silence as much as chatter. Slowly I learned to turn my attention to the things that matter most to me.

Slowly, slowly, slowly I started to speak the truth out loud…  In October 2009 I spoke out at a Take Back the Night rally, telling my story of surviving the rape and the stalking. In the same month, I committed to writing my book.  I hired a writing coach.  And I stumbled onto, applied to and was accepted to blog here on 8womendream.

Synchronicity Stories …

Now that I have written more than 250 pages in my book, with a draft manuscript due to my writing coach on 10/10/10, this adventure of writing a book, making it happen, really doing it — seems real. It is real.

It has been a beautiful adventure, and challenging as hell. I love writing, and have been a freelance writer since college.

But writing a book is bigger than writing an article. About 90,000 words bigger, in fact.  It’s downright daunting.  Somehow, a page at a time, a week at a time, one meeting with my writing coach at a time, it’s happening.

And it feels like things are somehow aligning as they should. I wouldn’t have been ready to write this book five years ago, and certainly not ten years ago.  The experiences were still too raw. I was still too raw.

I was raw material, untransformed.

Blue and Black Butterfly on Lavender Flowers by Darrell Gulin

Becoming the Butterfly …

Let’s just say I was the chrysalis, becoming the butterfly.

For me the “Eat” part was becoming a vegetarian and altering my diet.

The Pray” part was embracing Buddhism, yoga and a daily meditation practice.

The “Love” part for me, so far, was simply learning to love myself. The great love story of my life will grow out of that.

And this is how I wrote my own Eat, Pray, Love story:

  • I discovered that love matters.
    Love of self, love of friends, love of the world, bigger than romantic love, love of all. This is why I’m alive.
  • I discovered that being me is my one real job.
    As Liz Gilbert says in the movie version of Eat, Pray, Love, “God dwells within me, as me.”
  • I discovered that speaking the truth is healing.
    Elizabeth Gilbert starts her book with the following quote: “Tell the truth, tell the truth, tell the truth…”

I am happy being myself. I am learning to speak the truth out loud. I am all about the love, of myself and all.  Writing my book and speaking my story out loud is an exhilarating challenge. I hope that telling the truth can help other women (and men) transform their lives and find more peace and joy.

What did this book or movie teach you about what matters most? How have you written your own Eat, Pray, Love story?

Lisa



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Lisa is a freelance writer, consultant and life coach. She has her BA in English and Creative Writing from Princeton and her MPA from Harvard. Lisa recently finished the first draft of her book manuscript, Burning Down the House. Her dream is to publish this first book and teach the world how to discover their hidden joy. Her post day is Tuesday.
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  • Aww Thanks everybody :)

    Veronica love you too :) and you inspire me girlfriend so the feeling is mutual… :) Can’t wait to see you in Sept. when I am next in SF! :)

    @Julia, except for the Bali part ;) yeah pretty much my life… ;)

    @Mom I love you :)

    @Toni you are too kind girlfriend :) I am a work in progress, like ALL of us – but yes, committed to doing the work. And sooo much happier as a result. Peaceful. Content. :)

    @Leah – thanks love! I remember when you were reading that book in Mexico after your break-up… amazing how life lines up. I am SO excited for you and proud of you with all that’s happening now. Yay YOU! Yay Universe! :)

    And Kelley-Kel, love and miss you girl.. let’s catch up soon… Am proud of you for all you do and your path… I learn a lot from you :) Want to talk raw and yoga soon… And hear more about how your life is… Love you <3

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  • Kelley

    LISA RED!

    Your stories, your journey, your love- all very inspiring my dear…

    I know my path has had some challenging twists and turns, but through it all I continue to grow. Still haven’t found my meditation path, but my yoga mat is my sanctuary and keeps me grounded.

    Eat, Pray, Love was actually the last book that I read and it resonated with me in many ways… I know that love matters- and friends- and family- and giving back. Self love makes loving others real and authentic.

    My Eat, Pray, Love journey has found me exploring and learning so much about raw foods, continuing to love and accept myself and my partner- and traveling to new places…

    Congrats on your book progress…

    Hugs and Much Love, Kelley! :)

  • Leah Ferrer

    This is my favorite of your posts yet. I feel your joy as I read this. I too loved the book (haven’t seen the movie yet). I read it while I was off in Mexico getting over a breakup and credit the book for helping me through that dark time. I found that I looked forward to reading the book more than the sightseeing sometimes. Every page helped me know myself and it felt like Liz was in the trenches with me telling me that there’s a happy ending awaiting me. It was just nice to know that I was not alone.

  • Toni Schram

    I’m glad through Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, you were able to initiate your own journey of self discovery.

    Girl, you sure are walking the walk! It’s one thing to talk about making life changes, it’s another to commit and do the actual work.

    No wonder, when I see you, you are clearly awash with a glow that comes from within.

    Love ya-
    Toni

  • JP

    Lisa I am so proud of you — Mom

  • Julita

    I will try to watch this movie with Julita Roberts, as far as I can tell it is not getting good reviews. but, if it is similar to your life I will watch it, :)

  • Veronica

    Lisa,
    You continue to astonish me with your passion. You bring a smile to my face, almost daily as you respond to others and then of course when you post.
    you are so loved.

  • p.s. proud of you Cath :)

  • Cath, such wisdom… Both about your own victory over depression (which I understand, having been through it myself!) and about men.

    I too find that as long as I am meditating, exercising, eating healthy and just aware of my thoughts – not letting the negative ones grow like weeds, and planting positive ones often – I stay pretty darn happy. It took a while for me to learn how to be happy and balanced (late bloomer, I guess? ;) but here I am.

    Of course, going after my dreams helps ;) since I’m determined to live a life with no regrets. So I stay in motion on creating what I want… I know that I’m the only one who can go out there and create it. :)

    And I LOVE this Cath: “And she found a man who loved her for who she was, not who he wanted her to be. She stopped bending like a pretzel to fit in relationships.

    “It’s the bending that will get you hurt every time.”

    AMEN! here’s to finding the love that loves us AS WE ARE – for all of us. :) We’re worth it.

    xoxo
    Lis

  • Catherine, Site Admin

    I look at the book as one woman’s fight with depression (and winning), so what I do now is control my thoughts and feelings.

    Meditation and stretching help with that.

    I am happy with what we are doing here – what we are creating – even when it’s hard. It fills me up. Add in my son and I have a very full life. It didn’t always feel that way.

    I find that I can let go of things that are getting in the way of my success and accept what seems to be the natural process, and let go.

    Part of Elizabeth’s journey in learning to love herself – faults and all – was to trade in those relationships that didn’t bring out the best in her for ones that did.

    And she found a man who loved her for who she was, not who he wanted her to be. She stopped bending like a pretzel to fit in relationships.

    It’s the bending that will get you hurt every time.

    Cath

  • Remy I love this: I had to learn to let go. To let God handle it. To simply say “I”m willing to learn from all of this, even tho I want to run so far away from it and never look back”.

    And I loved your brilliant take on Eat, Pray, Love… so much to learn from you girl! :)

    Yes the book is moving along… What a slow process, a long and winding road, but I guess life is like that in some ways too ;) and I’m proud of myself for sticking with it…

    Being part of 8womendream helps – everyone cheering me on helps – I love my Dream Team :) And am so unspeakably grateful for all of you. :)

    xoxo
    Lis

  • Remy G

    I had to learn to let go. To let God handle it. To simply say “I”m willing to learn from all of this, even tho I want to run so far away from it and never look back”. My lessons are gonna be different because my experiences are different – but if I stand still in it, my answers are there. Its horribly generic and vague, but people live in their own skin and have their lives to hold up to that book – like you said we all have our own stories. I’m glad to hear the book is moving forward! xo Rem

  • p.s. am really curious to hear people’s opinions of the book, and movie as well… I LOVED the book (it was so in parallel with my life, it was hard not to… and I found Liz Gilbert’s self-deprecating humor and openness to sharing her struggles on the path to be charming…)

    The verdict is still out on the movie for me, since I fell in love with the book first.

    What did you think? Feedback will help me as a writer in the middle of writing my own Eat, Pray, Love story! :)

    Namaste! :
    Lisa

  • p.s. love to hear everyone’s progress on the journey – and how you’ve found a way to Eat, Pray, Love yourself to more joy or peace…

    Also would love to know what others think of the book and movie. :) I LOVED the book, verdict’s still out on the movie… I know some say that Elizabeth Gilbert was too neurotic, whiney, self-obsessed… Depression IS a classic American disease after all (most of us are fortunate enough to have the leisure time and space to realize it when we are unhappy…while in many countries people are simply struggling to survive…). And I say this as someone who has struggled with depression in the past… I know that even that is a luxury (I am healthy, with clean water, food, family and friends, a roof over my head… Sooo incredibly blessed…)

    While I can see that perspective, I also found her to be wildly courageous in making the journey, and felt like some of the backlash against the book may have been from people who wish their lives could be more like Liz’s life. What do you think? Did you love it or hate it? Find it boring or titillating?

    This writer wants to know… :) It will inform me as I continue to write my own Eat, Pray, Love story as well! :)

    Namaste!
    Lisa

  • The amazing thing is that since reading this book a few years ago, I’ve actually gotten younger. I mean, since I’m now 25. ;) Hahahahahaha!

    Amazingly however that is how it FEELS… Just like Elizabeth Gilbert in the movie, the further I get along the path of consciousness, awareness, joy and happiness, the more peaceful I get, and the younger I feel… and look, I think. It is like my “Inner Child” is out there dancing much more often. :)

    Having traveled this journey myself, day by day, sometimes through very painful moments and days, it is what I wish for ALL – to find a reserve of deep inner peace so unshakeable that you know you can ALWAYS return to it (it IS you!) – and to find a well in you of JOY so bottomless that you know no conditions or circumstances can shake or undo your basic state of overwhelming joy at simply being alive, in this body, experiencing the magic and miracle of everyday life… Which isn’t anything very ordinary at all, after all.

    I’m just so grateful for ALL of it, and for the continued lessons on the journey…

    Hoping everyone can “Eat, Pray, Love” their way to happiness, too. :)

    Love!
    Lisa

    • Tish

      Lisa,

      I have been wanting to read this book! You certainly inspired me. I hope to see you again soon for dancing.

      I two am on a journey of Self Discovery. I just joined a 7 month journey through a Landmark Education’s Introduction Leadership Program.

      I’m having to look, be aunthentic, doing mirror work to produce excitement, and be my possibitlity.

      I hope to learn meditation. It is in my future. Thanks for sharing your life!

      Tish