Eat, Pray, Love Didn't Make Me Do It

Eat, Pray, Love Didn’t Make Me Do It

How is this for an Eat, Pray, Love experience? I’m sitting in my New York apartment practicing Italian phrases in preparation for my first European adventure.

A few weeks ago, I read a collection of essays , Eat, Pray, Love Made Me Do it. Each essay detailed how the book had influenced people’s lives. It was incredible to read these stories and realize how one person’s story could impact the lives of millions. As someone who often writes about personal experiences, it reinforced my belief that even if your writing only impacts one person, it’s worth the effort.

My Eat, Pray, Love Experience

I was twenty-five the first time I read Eat, Pray, Love. Living in my home state of Kentucky, I felt stuck in a life that didn’t fit me. My life felt unsatisfying personally, professionally, and romantically. Elizabeth Gilbert’s story helped me to see my way out of that situation.


While I did not pack up and go to Italy, India, and Bali, I did move to Savannah, GA to spend a year studying a subject I loved, Cinema. During that year, I learned as much as I possibly could about film, culture and the industry I’d loved with since childhood. I also spent a lot of time writing, including my first novel and this blog.

Eat, Pray, Love Didn't Make Me Do It Eat, Pray, Love Didn't Make Me Do ItI also met two of the most important people in my life: Scotty Barnhart and Rachelle Murphy. They were going through the same grad school program and it seemed like only the heavens could be responsible for bringing these wonderful people into my life. I like to think I helped them, too, as we were all dealing with our own funks, but those two beautiful souls saved me in many ways. And those friendships still find a way to save me a little more each day.


During my time in Savannah, I also learned to pray and meditate, which for me is one in the same. I find it impossible to go through a meditating session and not pray immediately after. Someone or something needs to be thanked for that feeling of weightlessness that can only be obtained after meditating.

As someone who has gone on and off a steady meditation practice multiple times in the past four years, I can honestly tell you I’m two very different people when I have a steady meditation practice versus when I don’t.

When I don’t meditate regularly my emotions are in an uproar; I have little control over my moods and keeping my feelings in check. In fact, I waste far too much time thinking about my various emotions rather than working through them. I also tend to pack on a couple of pounds, nothing excessive, but I feel less of an urge to take care of my body.

Meditation teaches me balance between the mind, body, and spirit and you need to properly care for all three to find balance, which essentially leads to happiness. But it’s not just my emotions and weight that are out of whack when I don’t meditate, my creativity also falters.

During a steady practice, I write daily, whether it’s personal essays, novel work, or short stories – something flows out of me. When I’m not meditating regularly, the words stay in my head, which is dangerous for a writer because if you don’t practice you’ll never grow. I also tend to read more when I meditate, on average I go through 3 books a week.

In many ways, learning to meditate from Eat, Pray, Love was just as beneficial for me, if not more, as the lesson of learning to find pleasure in life.


Eat, Pray, Love Didn't Make Me Do ItAnd there is a lot of pleasure to be found in life. After I spent a year studying cinema I moved to New York City, the city of my dreams. I stumbled upon a job that I didn’t even know existed, but immediately fell in love with. Through my job I’ve been lucky enough to travel around many parts of the world – Malta, Tenerife, Bali and this Summer Sanya, China. I’ve met top creative minds from around the globe and spent weeks at a time with them listening, learning and discussing the beauty of creativity.

Eat, Pray, Love Didn't Make Me Do ItIt was also through my job that I met and fell madly in love with a wonderfully brilliant and ambitious man who has taught me so much about living, loving and creating. Timo is easily the most talented person I’ve ever met – he’s a pianist, a drummer, a singer, a lyricist, a cook, a lovely writer, an unstoppable athlete, a mathematical whiz, a savvy businessman and entrepreneur. From the time he wakes up until the moment he falls asleep he is always working toward bettering himself. I’ve truly never met another person like him. Not only has he shown me all the best parts of New York, but he has shown me daily how to be my best self in New York. We’re lovers, but we’re also dreamers and individuals and we admire and appreciate that about one another.

Eat, Pray, Love Didn't Make Me Do ItI also appreciate that Timo’s desire to explore the world is just as deep as mine. We were lucky enough to share my thirtieth birthday together in Seattle, a city I’ve always felt an intense kinship with. I’d never been; he’d gone once before, but he knew how important it was for me to see the city so we went. That trip was my favorite trip to date. It wasn’t fancy like my work trips, it was just two lovers and their backpacks off exploring a new city. It was perfect. So, for his thirtieth birthday we’re heading off to the other side of the pond to explore Amsterdam, Florence, and Manchester. Work trips aside, this is my first European adventure and I can’t imagine a more perfect person to be experiencing it with. Hence, the Italian practice!

In many ways, these experiences lead back to that girl five years ago who was distraught about the future  and decided to read a book she’d heard a lot about. Eat, Pray, Love did not make me do all of this – I made these choices, I did these things – but it showed me that I could.

Thank you Elizabeth Gilbert for sharing your story, your efforts were worth it.

Did you ready Eat, Pray, Love? If so, how did the book impact you?

Following a five-year stint in New York City, Ashley is now a Los Angeles transplant. Having grown up in rural Kentucky, Ashley is passionate to share self-care techniques used around the world and hopes to make them accessible to folks in rural communities. Ashley believes in gratitude, personal legends, and doing good. Aside from being a business leader in her professional life, Ashley is a novelist and freelance writer.


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