Empowered by globe-trotting and soul-searching, an essay by Delta, BC writer Eran Sudds, is one of four dozen published in Elizabeth Gilbert’s new anthology, Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It: Life Journeys Inspired by the Bestselling Memoir,” and the only one of two essays penned by Canadian writers.
To celebrate the tenth anniversary of Eat, Pray, Love and to answer her own burning question, “why was Eat, Pray, Love such a success?” Gilbert invited her fans to share short essays about the role her story has played in their lives.
Sudds, who went through a journey of personal growth and emotional enrichment, acknowledged the best-selling book as her source of inspiration to set out on a path she never thought possible.
Her candid story about her struggles to find meaning in her life and to cope with motherhood was chosen from among nearly 2000 submissions.
Read on to learn how Eat, Pray, Love inspired Sudds to quit her 9-5 job, to embark on her own “Eat” journey to Bordeaux, France, and how she found inspiration in the book’s words a second time, after giving birth to her son.
K: What was it about Eat, Pray, Love that got you hooked, almost religiously?
E: It’s like I was reading the words of my best friend. I read it every year, especially when I needed encouragement or motivation. It was always at the back of my mind that I wanted to quit my job and find something that meant something to me. Knowing that she had gone on this great adventure was something I had wanted to do someday too. When I finally was brave enough to leave my job and started exploring all of the things that really appealed to me, I took the leap to go to France for a month in hopes that something would come into light of what I really wanted to do with my life.
K: What did you feel was wrong with your life?
E: I worked at a 9-5 job for a nonprofit as an event coordinator. I was really good at my job, really loved the people I worked with, but something was missing. I felt like I wasn’t doing that thing that I was meant to be doing. It eventually put me into a deep depression.
K: The power of authenticity in this book must have spoken volumes. How did it empower you to go on this adventure?
E: I was at a place where I finally acknowledged the fact that because I was unhappy with my life, only I had the power to change it.
K: And what a beautiful place to get some me-time! What was it like being on your own in Bordeaux?
E: I found a French apartment, took an extensive French course and read many self-help books and discovered my passion.
It was in the act of being alone and not having anyone else to answer to, not having anybody else’s laundry or dishes to do, that I was the only person I was responsible for — this is what gave me a sense of awakening. Every day, I would read and sit by myself in this perfect little apartment. I’d make dinner for myself at 10 o’clock at night and plan all these things I’d want to do.
K: A newfound understanding of self-love and self-discovery can really change a person’s life in a profound way.
E: Absolutely. I remember during breaks between my French class, I would buy a warm, fresh chocolate croissant and sit on the street and eat it. To be there, to listen to my surroundings and to live in this present moment, is what taught me the self-affirming power of quietness and simply being by myself.
K: What passion are you now pursuing?
E: Photography. It has always been an interest. Towards the end of my journey in France, my husband came and brought my camera. I took photos of the city, of him and of everything around me. And I still do today.
K: So what can readers look forward to learning from your compelling story?
E: The essay is titled: “tell the truth, tell the truth, tell the truth”, the words at the very beginning of Eat, Pray, Love. I want to encourage others to figure out what you’re really doing with your life. Tell the truth about what’s going on with you. It’s okay to not have everything figured out. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to need to make a change.
The second time the book changed my life was reading those words when I was in major post partem depression after the birth with my son. But that’s the message of the essay – it’s recognizing what you’re telling yourself and what you need to listen to.
The help she received from the Pacific Post Partum Support Society also inspired Sudds to launch The Good Mother Project, a global online community of mothers supporting mothers through similar hardships.
Other stories in the book include one about a writer coming to terms with the loss of her mother; another leaves the seminary, embraces his sexual identity and forges a new relationship with God; while a third reels from a difficult divorce and finds new love overseas. The journeys these writers recount are transformative, sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking, but always deeply inspiring.
EAT PRAY LOVE MADE ME DO IT is a celebration for fans old and new, and a reminder of what has made Eat, Pray, Love such an enduring success. It is a book that gives strength to the weak, succor to the afflicted and hope to the hopeless.