In the ten years since its electrifying début, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love has become a worldwide phenomenon, empowering millions of readers to set out on paths they never thought possible, in search of their own best selves. Here, in this candid and captivating collection, nearly fifty of those readers—people as diverse in their experiences as they are in age and background—share their stories. The journeys they recount are transformative—sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking, but always deeply inspiring.
Eat Pray Love helped one writer to embrace motherhood, another to come to terms with the loss of her mother, and yet another to find peace with not wanting to become a mother at all. One writer, reeling from a difficult divorce, finds new love overseas; another, a lifelong caregiver, is inspired to take an annual road trip, solo. A man leaves seminary, embraces his sexual identity, and forges a new relationship with God. A woman goes to divinity school and grapples with doubt and belief. One writer’s search for the perfect pizza leads her to New Zealand and off-the-grid homesteading, while another, in overcoming an eating disorder, redefines her relationship not only with food but with herself. Some writers face down devastating illness and crippling fears, and others step out of their old lives to fulfill long-held dreams of singing, acting, writing, teaching, and learning.
Entertaining and enlightening, Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It is a celebration for fans old and new. What will Eat Pray Love make you do?
[Book synopsis courtesy of Barnes and Noble]
A native Texan, Linsi Broom, has lived across the United States and holds graduate degrees in both psychology and conflict studies. After breaking free from the confines of a government cubicle, she now writes, travels and teaches trauma-informed yoga. Her passion is working with vulnerable/marginalized populations. You can follow her journey at livingthesearch.com. (pg. 209)
[Author bio courtesy of “Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It”]
In Conversation with Linsi Broom
How did the opportunity to contribute to this anthology come about?
In the summer of 2015, Elizabeth posted an announcement on her Facebook page stating that Riverhead Books would be celebrating the 10 year anniversary of Eat Pray Love by publishing an anthology of reader-inspired stories. If interested, we were asked to submit 1500 word essays for consideration. I had just returned home from my trip a few months prior and felt a strong urge to get my story out of my head and onto paper. I quickly wrote the short essay and submitted it before I had too much time to doubt myself. I found out several months later that my story had been selected to be published.
How has your life changed since the release of Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It?
To be honest, it hasn’t changed that drastically. That being said, the news that my story was going to be published in the anthology came at a time when I really needed some kind of confirmation that I was on the right track. Days before I received the news, I had pleadingly asked the universe for some small sign to help me know if I was moving in the right direction. Getting the email that my story was going to be published was exactly what I needed at that time. Even though it is just a small story, I still very much needed that boost in confidence to keep moving toward my own goals and stand up to my own self doubt.
What have you learned about yourself during your travels? How do you document your journey?
I’ve learned so many things, that it is really quite hard to put them all into words. Before my trip, I identified strongly as an independent, head strong female; however, I think traveling solo actually taught me more about my vulnerabilities than my strength. There were a lot of low points during my travels, and those low points really forced me to dig deep and face unpleasant facts about myself. I realized that the strong, independent woman façade was really just a way of pushing people away and guarding myself. During several instances, I found myself in situations during which I had no choice but to depend on the compassion and kindness of strangers. Those situations, while humbling, taught me to embrace a softer, sweeter, more vulnerable side of myself.
I kept a journal throughout my travels – just a plain yellow spiral. I used up every single sheet of paper and had to start back at the beginning writing on the back of each page. I also used up two ink pens! By the end of the trip, the little yellow spiral had begun to feel like my best friend.
What made you want to visit Thailand, Nepal and Bali, besides taking a Vipassana course?
It was really a combination of factors that led me to these specific countries. I have always had a spiritual connection to Eastern culture, so I imagined that I would end my trip in India. In fact, it was only because of a Visa-related issue that I found myself in Indonesia and not India. Most of the trip ended up happening organically. The only real plans I had upon departure were arriving/departing from Bangkok and attending the Vipassana course in Kathmandu.
What places have you traveled to that are “must sees” for people trying to get out of their comfort zone?
For me, Nepal was the real boundary-pusher. The culture is so far from the white-washed Western world. It was terrifying and wonderful all at the same time. Even now, when I think of my time in Pokhara, a small city west of Kathmandu, I feel a fluttering in my heart. That place really stirred up something inside of me. I think everyone has to find that place for themselves, but my advice would be to pick somewhere that is as far out of your norm as possible – but do so with an open heart and an open mind.
How would you describe Eat Pray Love for readers who haven’t read it yet?
In my opinion, Eat Pray Love is a story about rewriting the narrative of your life. The book really illustrates how something bad (like a divorce) can force us to reconsider prior stories we’ve created for ourselves and find the courage to create something new. Of course, the book is also about travel and adventure but, mostly, I believe Elizabeth is telling a story about rebirth and the courage to embrace the unknown.
Do you reread Eat Pray Love? If so, have you found anything new that has inspired your next adventure?
I reread the book this spring after I found out that my story would be included in the anthology. I wouldn’t say that I found anything new, but instead, I found myself more curious about the next chapter in Elizabeth’s life – after returning back to the States and building the new phase of her life. Acclimating back to regular life after such a life changing adventure has been pretty difficult for me, at times. I often find myself wishing I could sit down with Elizabeth and pick her brain about how she dealt with that strangeness.
Have you read any other books that had the same lasting effect on you as Eat Pray Love?
I read Wild by Cheryl Strayed before I read Eat Pray Love (even though it was released much later). That book probably had more of an effect on me in terms of inspiring adventure and longing for travel than EPL. Cheryl’s book really explores the correlation between physical endurance and mental/emotional resilience. As a ultrarunner, I found this to be incredibly relatable. That book and the act of running long distances taught me that overcoming physical challenges is very similar to overcoming mental demons.
What advice do you have for people who want to venture out of their comfort zone but are afraid of failure?
I personally feel like the odds are pretty slim that anyone is going to make it through life without failing at some point. If I could go back in time, I would have gotten my first failure out-of-the-way much sooner. I lived so long afraid of not being perfect that I often wonder what my life would have been like if I had been less afraid during my adolescence and early adulthood. I think people should have a healthy appreciation for the reality of failure or disappointment (it’s not fun or pleasant..), but also realize that avoiding that pain only holds you back from learning and evolving.