Literary Heroes

There are writers – literary heroes – whose work you identify so strongly with and whose words touch your very soul it changes you. Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, is that person for me. So when I heard she was in Milwaukee for a book signing and Q&A session, I couldn’t help myself; I just had to meet her. And I have to say that she is even more lovely in person that I could have ever imagined.

For those of you familiar with Gilbert’s work, she often writes about the movement between disappointment, sorrow, and suffering to wisdom, joy, and strength. Given my own struggles recently I was curious to know what advice she could offer to someone who felt they were at the lowest point of their lives. Here’s what she had to say (although in my own words because hey, I just met my hero and couldn’t believe I was actually having a one-on-one conversation with her that I’ll freely admit I can’t quite remember everything she said word-for-word).

Read anything and everything you can about mythology. Find stories of goddesses and of heroines and clutch so tightly to that magic. Let it be your totem pole and guiding force because there is a supernatural power lying inside of you. You may feel like you can’t survive the disappointment but all the great goddesses and heroines of this world do survive and they are wiser and stronger because they’ve experienced that loss and grief. At the lowest point of your life is the greatest possible invitation for you to transform and to rebuild. Don’t waste that pain. Learn from it. Be the goddess of your own story and be so incredibly good to yourself because the only direction you can go now is up.

Afterwards, she embraced me in the warmest, most loving way. She kissed my cheek and squeezed me ever so tightly that I almost felt like she was transferring every ounce of love and support she could offer up over to me. She cloaked me in an armor of protection, a sort of force field that nothing bad could penetrate. It was one of the happiest moments of my life and I am forever touched…

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Filed under advice, books, heroes

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