An addictive spin on life, love, and the nature of reality
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“I just finished Moondance and I felt I had to write to tell you how much I loved it. I haven't been able to put it down and felt it totally resonate for me...”– Lynne Franks
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Director, Renewed Strength
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I first read the Eat Pray Love book at a time when I was emerging from a number of years of spiritual retreats, personal development work and four years studying karmic astrology and my own past lives. In short: it was exhilarating and strengthening time with a lot of tears along the way. And triumphs!
I was past the euphoria that often comes after having personal breakthroughs. I realized that while I had more tools than most at my disposal, felt more grounded than I ever had, that life was still life, to be lead one day at a time and that my way of doing things wasn't necessarily better than any other.
Yet when I read the scene in Eat Pray Love about the 30-something Elizabeth Gilbert, crying in the shower with the probing (?!) insight that she didn't want children, a huge part of me went: That's your breakthrough? It took you this long to figure THAT out? Later in the book, I had a similar response to when her lover said she had ‘been alone long enough’ after less than a year — having experienced being alone for years rather than months. ‘Lady, you don't KNOW alone.’ ☺
So I spent much of Eat Pray Love not being that impressed. I found the writing whiny, not that insightful and almost didn't finish it. Inside me however, I didn't feel good about that reaction. I began to sift through the layers of my resistance, of which there were many.
First of all, the only valid comparison is us today, with us in the past. As a dear psychiatrist friend says “I don't believe in comparisons.’ So I called myself on that and just stopped. Then I went deeper. Once I told myself the truth, I realized that my criticisms of Eat Pray Love were more about me wanting to feeling superior. In other words, I had tumbled into the good ol' my pain is bigger than your pain club. Ug. Get me out!
My inner critic bound, gagged thrown in a closet, I kept reading. By the end of Eat Pray Love, I was enjoying Elizabeth Gilbert's candour and self-depracating humour. I was especially enjoying living vicariously through her travel and the ability to manifest her dreams into reality.
I began looking at the broader picture, too. That the popularity of Eat Pray Love means that the ‘mainstream’ was changing, desiring something more. Like The Secret that came before it — love it or hate it — both of these successes indicate to me that the bell curve representing humanity was moving. In an encouraging direction.
Gilbert's story is a reminder that inside all of us, there is a heart which yearns for the simplest thing: to be connected with who we really are and what we want, and to live this authentically each day in our lives, without the shackles of societal or familial expectation.
Months after I read Eat Pray Love, a friend sent me Elizabeth Gilbert's Ted presentation, which is also embedded below. I enjoyed her talk. In her dry way, she referred to the ‘freakish’ success of Eat Pray Love. Now I'm thinking: You go girl! If she can do it... so can I.
Then a male friend of mine, a professional, admitted to me that this was one of the books that he read and enjoyed, but ‘brown-bagged’ around his buddies. I had to smile at that. Who'd a thunk?
“People think a soulmate is your perfect fit, and that's what everyone wants. But a true soulmate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.”— Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love
On soulmates, Elizabeth Gilbert and I agree. We may come from different experiences, have different beliefs and use different words to describe it. But the soulmate concept is about getting to know what's in our own hearts and souls, embracing our strengths and befriending our saboteurs. All for the purpose of remembering who we really are and changing our lives for the better.
When we bring another to their own attention, and we receive and acknowledge a gift of the same, we are in effect inviting our souls to come forth and play. We will do this in a way that is unique to each one of us. In a way that is measured only by what came within us before.
While Eat Pray Love wasn't the most insightful book I've ever read, that wasn't its purpose in my life. It did serve as a vicarious window of travel, sensuality, reflection and choice. It did serve as a celebration of life and a window into the delicious unknown (thanks to BD for this lovely descriptor).
It also showed the day-to-day experience of a fallible human who fully engaged in her life, did what she was passionate about and allowed incredible abundance to unfold, receiving all that it had to offer: including a soulmate.
The movie? I'll be renting it. But if I have anything else to say, I'll let you know.
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