Write, Pray, Hope: Thank you, Elizabeth Gilbert

images-1Today, I started the day thinking: Oh, my God! I am very VERY jealous of Elizabeth Gilbert.

You see, about a week ago, my editor told me, quite casually, “Oh, I asked that agent about your book…” (This was the agent she’d told me about, the mythical agent who could, she said, sense whether or not a book would be popular by, I don’t know, sniffing the query letter.) But when my editor mentioned my book to her, the agent said, “‘Oh, I already have an angel book I’m working on. I’ll pass.'”

And my heart sank to the floor. For three days, it lay there – flopping around in a death dance of angst and wretchedness that I was unable to own or explain. Three long days I felt unmoored, unseen.

I felt wasted – as if my life itself had been wasted. And all because someone that I’ve never met, and now, never will meet, said, without looking at my work, “I’ll pass.”

And then, this morning, I woke up and saw the trailer for the movie, “Eat Pray Love,” and I have to admit that, for at least an hour, I hated Elizabeth Gilbert.

But then, I took myself to my daily cafe – and settled at my corner table with iced tea and poached egg on a nice piece of whole grain toast and I got over it.

OVER IT!

This pity party can not stand. This liability – this tenderness, this vulnerability. This is the kind of thing that has kept me hidden from view for 53 years – that has left me standing at the center of the stage of my own life, hands open to the stars, asking: Why?

Why would the gods make me this sensitive, this open – so tender that I can feel light with my fingertips and then and then and then… ? I mean, Why give me this light to hold? Why, if you never open the window? Am I just supposed to stand here and hold it until it burns right through my hands?

And then today, after anguish, after jealousy, after bitterness, it came to me.

Yes.

Yes, you are supposed to stand there.

Yes, you are supposed to hold the light.

Yes, even if it burns.  Yes.

Because, the thing is, it’s not about the gods. It’s about you.

Today, when I woke up hating Elizabeth Gilbert, I was ashamed of myself. It wasn’t a personal hate – I’m sure she’s a very nice person. I saw her TED talk. I saw her on Oprah, she’s beautiful – and interesting, well-spoken and real.

This envy had nothing to do with her. It was a white hot lie that was searing me from the inside out like a slab of raw tuna. Envy. A, wailing, sour, “Why not me?” that sent me searching her website at 5:00 in the morning for clues.

I had to know: What specialness, what difference, what entitlement of breeding, accidental opportunity, education, and dumb luck separates this writer from me? We’re both magazine editors; both good writers, both… nice. What forces of destiny conspired to give her the gift of a year in Italy, India and Indonesia eating pasta, meditating and riding a bicycle around Bali – when I am… well, you know, here?

I know now.

She asked.

In the trailer, there’s a scene, a bit of the story that I don’t remember from Gilbert’s best-selling book where Julia Roberts, as Gilbert, stands in the office of the editor of a magazine and she asks the magazine to send her on a year-long journey, which she will chronicle, and write a book.

She asks. And before that, she worked. Head down, nose to the grindstone work – inner and outer – and she built a relationship of trust with that editor. She was reliable. She wrote outstanding prose for that magazine; and, also, she authored several other books. Every brick in the foundation of what she calls, in her TED talk, this “freakish success” was laid by her.

And then, she asked her question, that pivotal, now archetypal, “Please, Sir (or in her case, Madam) May I have some more?”

This morning’s envy-fest led me to my own question: What about me? And so I asked it – of myself.

What.About.You?

What I found was this: I’ve laid the foundation. I work – hard. Like Elizabeth, God’s voice has lifted me from the bathroom floor more than once. As for inspiration, there is an entire room in my house crammed with notebooks so pregnant with ideas that when you open the cover of any one of them, it bleeds.

All that’s missing is that one simple step: I don’t ask.

I stand there, hands filled with light, and I don’t – I can’t  let myself take the exquisite risk of asking for more.

Today, my envy taught me something. Today, I am asking. Instead of sitting here seething with envy and powerlessness, I am ripping a window in the wall of my life and demanding: Please, please – I want more.

The deep-down, soul-aching truth is: I am in love with Elizabeth Gilbert – in love in that deep, crushy way that a woman loves and celebrates another woman who is doing the thing that she, herself, longs to do. I adore and honor this beautiful talented woman who is daring to live, daring to write, daring to ask.

And so today, out of that love, on the day that the film of her miraculous book opens in theaters, I am sitting at my desk, opening my hands and letting the light pour onto the page. I am writing. I am praying, I am asking: Lord, let me be truly useful.

Today, I am celebrating Elizabeth Gilbert, and blessing her journey, filled with hope for my own. Thank you, dear Elizabeth – for showing me how to write, pray and Hope – and how to ask.

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Showing 38 comments
  • Alisa
    Reply

    amy,
    I so love this post and so glad i discovered you. There’s always a moment where we can go either way. leap or retreat. The razor’s edge where we either dare to dive in, or settle back in. I’m with you. time to dive in. open up. our heart. our hands. our vision of what our life might be if we simply let something in that which is so uncertain it unsettles the very foundation that keeps us stuck, disguised as stable. Thanks for the push.

  • christina
    Reply

    You have found what separates all of us wonderful, overflowing with brilliance and wonder women with Elizabeth… and all those who we sometimes envy and always admire. To join her in saying “give it to me” and accepting what that means, while letting go of the security you have where you are demonstrates such a profound leap… one that most of us will never make.

    Go girl!

  • Mary
    Reply

    Amy, I can’t add anything to the other brilliant comments on your brilliant post – other than…THANK YOU. Thank you, THANK YOU!

  • Tracie
    Reply

    I needed this today. The past three days have been a work of envy for me on several fronts.

    But I see now that I have hoped, sometimes even prayed….but never asked. Not really.

    I’ve dropped that light at the first pain, calling it realism, calling it honesty…..when every time I should have called it what it really is, fear.

    • Amy
      Reply

      Thanks so much for this comment, Tracie – and for reading the blog. I hope you won’t translate the fear into, “I’m not strong enough or good enough,” or “I’m never gonna be able to do this.” So many people do… I did. But now I’ve come to think of fear as a gift – like all shadow – because it reveals things I need to know about myself – the vulnerable places and hidden negative beliefs that i need to heal so that I can strengthen myself for the journey ahead.

  • Shuli
    Reply

    Hi, I don{t even know how I got to your post. It is delightful! Thank you for the morning rain (in the hottest day of my life here in Jerusalem). I want to read more of you. You do deserve that year of wonder and miracles, you have what it takes and now you have the awareness for the step I feel–I’m sure– you will take to get out into your journey. I wish you belssings, dear new friend.
    May the Blessing Be!
    Shuli from Jerusalem, Israel.

  • Lisa @pbajmom
    Reply

    I always feel uplifted when I read your blog & posts. I admire you. You radiate goodness and light.

    Love ya, Lisa xxoo

  • Tomar
    Reply

    Amy –
    I read every word in a trance. A friend mentioned you and this post to me the other day. What touches me most – besides your poetry and eloquence, amazing writing – is the self-recognition of the highly gifted, highly sensitive, highly intelligent woman (I think there are many of us) – who may even be “burned” by the light she holds – who has not been able to thrust her gifts into the world. Because of that tender sensitivity, thin skin, introversion(?), and probably history of being wounded by the world – which we all have.

    We are all temperamentally different and some (Elizabeth Gilbert?) are born with more assertive and courageous genes. I wish I had them. This is what I’ve now dedicated myself to transforming – in myself and to help others too – that pattern of hiding my light, letting my fears be in control. You get to a certain age and there’s no time for that anymore!

    By the way, I believe in self-publishing. The great gift that the Internet and this great age of communication has given us is not having to wait at the gate for approval or permission – the gates have been sprung open in all kinds of liberating ways. (I would love to help the 70-year old woman with the angel manuscript navigate this realm – it’s not that hard.)

    I am also deeply moved by the responses to your post. What a beautiful community of souls surrounds you who seek and reflect your light! I would love for there to be a forum of light-bearing women ready to bring their light into the world. Just the women on this post could start it! And you know that’s what the world needs. But we can’t wait to be asked – as I’ve always waited. Yes, it’s time to do the asking – and in some circumstances, not even asking, just doing. Any thing that feels like a risk seems to be what’s needed (for the risk-averse.) Let the light guide you and link arms with fellow light-bearers.

    Blessings,
    Tomar
    @TomarLevine
    http://www.YourTimeToBloom.com

    • Amy
      Reply

      Tomar – I, too, have the urge to help the 70-year-old woman that Yvonne mentioned. I will reach out to her this week. And to you. Thank you for the brilliant light of your comment. What a gift to receive it this morning as I leave my weekend with my mother – another wise and gifted woman who has not (yet) been able to fully shine her light into the world.

  • Alexandra
    Reply

    Lucky and blessed to found you through Erin. Totally am in love with your words here. I’m subscribing now.

    • Amy
      Reply

      Thank you, Cathy and Alexandra – for your comments, for reading my blog. So glad you joined the conversation!

  • Purple_cath
    Reply

    Omg! Wow! This is my first time to your site and your heart sings to mine! Thank you for sharing. Like you, when I devoured Elizabeth’s book I wanted to be like her. What a beautiful piece. Thank you. Can’t wait to read your book!

  • Elissa
    Reply

    Your passion, your honesty, your desire ring so deep so true my friend. Here’s the deal. It’s all inside you. It’s already there. Just let yourself let it flow. Letting go is terrifying, no matter how much you want it. But you’re so far along the path. xo

  • Shelly Kramer
    Reply

    Love it! I say this all the time, Amy … and also remind myself of it in the process. What I say is “Raise your hand. Say HELL YES I can do it, want to do it, will do it and hit it out of the freakin’ park.” And somewhere along the way, so many of us just forget to do that. To raise our hands, to ask, to not be afraid of going out on that limb and asking for the chance. After all, what’s the downside?

    Love this! Great job. Now, get out there and raise your damn hand!

    Mwah.

    Shelly
    @shellykramer
    http://v3im.com

    • Amy
      Reply

      Shelly – LOL. Hand raised (as it has been since you kicked my booty into gear!)
      Elissa – I would say the same to you, love. Let’s hold hands and do this thing.
      Danielle – Thanks 🙂

  • Danielle Smith
    Reply

    Amy – this is beautiful in so many ways. I could feel your anguish….your relief and then the miracle of hope settle in. I am so truly proud of you for allowing yourself to feel these emotions, to embrace them and to triumph over those that are least true to you.

    Heavenly read. Inspirational. Thank you.

  • chris white
    Reply

    Wow…beautiful to feel you so full with desire.
    So in the tempest of duality and the push and pull of becoming. Knowing it takes steadiness and grace and time, and not letting any of that dampen your desire for all of it NOW!
    What a crazy mixed-up human being you are (we are), and even more incredible that you know it!
    very cool to find your blog.
    blessings

  • Tori Janaya
    Reply

    Amy, I found your blog via Julie Daley’s RT, and I’m so glad. What a beautiful search for the tiny nugget that separates you and Elizabeth — and oh, the nugget itself! Such a gift.

    I’m a huge practitioner and proponent of making outrageous requests for help. In this lifetime I’ve received a free car, another almost-free car, numerous part-time, flexible work schedules that didn’t exist before I asked for them, sideways promotions where I worked fewer hours and made more money, a clean and light-filled $400/mo. studio in the heart of San Francisco…all kinds of helpful things … AND non-things: like my spiritual teacher, the capacity to love in spite of gut-wrenching fear, forgiveness when I thought none was possible.

    All for the asking.

    Oliver Twist knew what he was about!

    • Amy
      Reply

      Tori – So inspired by your outrageous requests for help. Sitting down to make a list of my own!
      Chris – Glad to meet another crazy mixed-up human being!
      Thank you both for these delicious comments – truly nourished my soul to read them.

  • Sheila
    Reply

    True to form…you took an experience and turned into a revealing piece of beautiful writing that is something you also share with Elizabeth Gilbert…in addition to talent, hard work, and a willingness to reveal her vulnerability, I think Elizabeth Gilbert is very much a risk taker, I believe this plays into her success. Continued success is sure to come to someone with such a well lit path 🙂

  • Beth
    Reply

    Ohhhh…how much do I wish I could sit next to you this week, share a bucket of popcorn, and watch that movie? A lot. A whole lot.

    Let the life blood flow…

    • Amy
      Reply

      Beth – I wish you could sit beside me anywhere.

  • Julie Daley
    Reply

    “in love in that deep, crushy way that a woman loves and celebrates another woman who is doing the thing that she, herself, longs to do. I adore and honor this beautiful talented woman who is daring to live, daring to write, daring to ask.”
    And, I’m in love with you, in that deep, crushy way, celebrating you for doing the thing you are here to do…to hold the light, to write the light, to share it with the world in whatever way Spirit is calling you to do.

  • Alice Langholt
    Reply

    It’s funny, Amy, but when I think of Eat, Pray, Love, I also think of you, and have since I started reading it, long before this post was written. That’s because I love love love the writing style, real down to earth seekingness of both of your writing, and the gorgeous way my heart swells when I’m caught up in the words that pour forth straight into images in my head. You have this talent, Amy. You have it all. And you will, I am sure in my bones, have this success too…if you really want it. You are more than worthy. I’ve felt this envy too…I admit it, and it’s reassuring to read others here who have felt the envy. Only I didn’t feel it about Elizabeth Gilbert. I felt it about you. But it’s really just deep love and admiration, and a questioning deep inside if I can become so enlightened and descriptive in my own life as you shine in yours. So your light not only shines from your hands, Amy, but it shines straight from your beautiful soul and illuminates the world. With love, Alice

  • Yvonne
    Reply

    Wow!! I stumbled upon you from a suggestion from Twitter and Oh, I’m so glad that I did!!! Your blog was amazing. You are in incredible writer and your story is so close to that of a dear friend of mine that it makes me ache with hurt for you both.

    She too has the most amazing Angel book that she wrote from her talk with the Angels and our tries at getting it published have gone no where fast. She’s had it done since the early 90’s but the information is so amazing that it was sad to see other books published “Conversations with God”, etc while hers was not able to be shared with others.

    In recent years she has asked me to help her with a website and self-publishing but I’ve been so busy with my own business that I have not had time to help her. She is in her 70’s now and she’s been holding the light for so long and I’m so sad for her. If I had all the money in the world I’d accomplish this goal for her, but I’m not currently in a position to make that happen.

    I have not talked to her in awhile…I need to call her. I love her and she means the world to me and if there is one regret in life it’s that I have not been able to help make her dream come true.

    I’ll be following you in Twitter now……a connection has been made and I’ll check back again for more amazing blog posts. You have been truly useful to me today by helping remind me of someone I love. Your light is so similar to hers and amazing women like you two are so beautiful that we all have crushes on YOU!

    All the best!
    Yvonne
    http://www.Refermyhomebiz.com

  • erin
    Reply

    I am without words, so incredible was my experience reading this. I have thought about what to say and I am literally quite speechless because you have verbalized what I feel. Only I have no foundation to stand on—no room of notebooks overflowing with ideas, no manuscript waiting for an agent, and certainly no BALLS.

    I adore Anne Lamott. And you. This gave me the chills. And Sarah Robinson’s jumping ship post did the same. I feel like I’m standing on the edge of a cliff….waiting….to jump and soar into something magnificent. Only I’m scared.

    • Amy
      Reply

      You have foundation, Erin – we all do. To set off on your adventure (and that’s what this is about – the longing for the feeling of life’s wind in your hair) you begin wherever you are, with whatever skills and tools and history you’ve got now, by simply looking down at the path and taking a step.

  • Cherry Woodburn
    Reply

    Amy,
    Thank you for sharing your vulnerability. I so fully believe that sharing our stories, as you did, puts you more firmly on the path (in this case) to asking and reminds me that I’m not alone and that I need to ask for what I want. Good one Amy and congrats on getting out of the hole. Cherry

  • anthony lawlor
    Reply

    Spectacular writing. This is the honest expression that brings the success you already are and is growing from the past , through today, into the future. To judge ourselves in relation to anyone else dims the light we are already emitting. With this post, the radiance you are shines forth. There’s so much imitation and hiding going on in the world. Expressing YOUR truth without trying to manage the results is the secret to standing out, because it’s the breath of fresh air we all are wanting for. Thanks for sending a fresh breeze our way. It inspires me to speak MY truth more forcefully and face my creative challenges more directly. THANKS!

  • sarah robinson
    Reply

    Exquisite and powerful Amy – and your writing is too. 🙂 You envy (or used to envy) Elizabeth Gilbert; I envy – and still envy and love – Anne LaMott. But when we finally find ourselves in these people, it’s like finding a long lost lover I think. Congratulations for stepping up and asking for MORE!!

    • Amy
      Reply

      Ah, I love (and envy) Anne Lamott, too. And if her book was now a movie starring Julia Roberts (another person I envy 🙂 ) I would be writing this post about her today. Thanks so much for your comment – and encouragement!

  • Lindsey
    Reply

    This is so lovely. The image of you holding light in your hands, waiting for the window to open is so exquisitely evocative for me. I admire the way you have come to understand it, and find solace in YOUR peace … may it help guide me to my own!
    xo

  • Julie Roads
    Reply

    Wow, Amy. Very powerful. And raw, as you named it so aptly. Thank you so much for sharing this with the world. Does it help to know that you are not alone? You aren’t.

    • Amy
      Reply

      Yes, Julie – it helps immensely. Thank you for telling me.

  • Sally G.
    Reply

    Oh, Amy. Your hands are filled with magic. When you stand in that room, light in your hands, holding it until it burns ~ you are infusing it with magic. And then that magic flows from your fingers into your words – and the light permeates the very Being of all who read you.

    Those willing to allow the light to alchemize with their own unique Essence will feel the powerful imagery expressed in each message you share ~ and the connection will be sacred.

    I wanted to be part of the Eat, Pray Love-fest when it swelled so dramatically. I wanted to connect with the heart of its writer, to see myself somewhere in the pages, to discover illuminated Truth that might shift a perspective or alter a behaviour. To this day, it remains not possible. The Oprah spot, the TED Talk – none of it resonated with me.

    You, on the other hand — you are like the shimmering ocean: deep, powerful, timeless. I fully believe in my heart that Elizabeth Gilbert’s success came first because somebody needed to stimulate awareness to the possibilities available when one chooses to live more awake, more engaged, more connected.

    Once this consciousness shift gains momentum and builds critical mass ~ the wisdom and love of the Light Holders will be welcomed, their intuitive gifts desired, and their life changing significance appreciated.

    Keeping working through the inner work necessary to ensure you’re ready when the time comes for you to step forward and Blaze. You have so much to share ~ and you’re going to be REALLY busy.

    • Amy
      Reply

      Sally – I have told you privately that I adore you – and that I believe we share a deep connection. This comment blew my heart open. Thank you, sanctuary keeper, wisdom teacher, depth watcher…

  • Wren
    Reply

    yet again, you’ve pulled at my little heart strings. thanks for the beautiful post. i especially loved the part about being sensitive and standing there waiting for the reason- i know exactly how you feel. i’ve always been very sensitive and overly-perceptive, and although i often wonder why my life has been so difficult/full, i know in my heart that god made me this way for a reason. thanks again 🙂

    • Amy
      Reply

      Thank you, Wren for being there to read it. You have no idea what that means to me today. When envy lets go of my heart so much light pours in.

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