Last weekend I finally saw the movie Eat, Pray, Love based on the book by Elizabeth Gilbert, and illuminated on screen by a glowing Julia Roberts.

There’s been huge buzz around the book, and the movie, billed as one woman’s (Elizabeth Gilbert) spiritual journey as she travels to Rome, India and Bali, in a year of self-discovery (and recovery) after her divorce.

The critics, and many of my women friends, have given both the book and the film mixed reviews – the majority deeming it more of a travelogue than a deep spiritual awakening.

Reading the book and seeing the movie with open curiosity and without any expectations for either, I enjoyed them both. And here’s why.

Whatever one’s opinion of the depth of Gilbert’s writing and spirituality, she took some chances, showed up (admittedly in some well-chosen stunning locations), did the work, and then put her soul into print.

To each her own ‘spiritual journey’ and Gilbert simply shares hers, with humour and heart.

As a writer, and relentless world traveler, Gilbert’s story also made me reflect on my own time in Rome, a city that wears its passions (not only for food) on its sleeve and can teach all of us a thing or two about living with ‘gusto’; and lush, calm Bali, where 25 years ago I experienced what it is to live daily with true grace and ease.

And while many think taking a year out of your life to “find yourself” is self-indulgent or time well wasted, I believe these sabbaticals are powerful ways to renew and recharge our selves and our souls. In the last few decades, I have taken three year-long “detours” in my usual work life to live in Australia, Los Angeles and the South of France. And I plan to take more.

Years later, I’m still gleaning meaning and insight from my peripatetic lifestyle, and what this desire to keep moving (and exploring) is feeding. However, to date, most of my year-long journeys have only been documented in personal journals and postcards. Hmmm. Perhaps I have the material for my own version of Write, Play, Love.

Which leads me to the most important lesson I’ve learned from Gilbert and her self-decribed “freakish success” with Eat, Pray, Love. Our creative spirit – our genius – is there for all of us but we have to show up to work with it, that unidentifiable source where great creativity resides. And even if we can’t always tap into that source, we still have to have the stubbornness to show up, step up and keep doing our part in the creative dance.

Life, love and writing are not just about taking chances but about showing up – consistently.

What helps you continue to show up?

Author's Bio: 

I’m a girl from the Canadian prairies who likes wide-open spaces, fresh ideas, a great story, and inspiring environments, buildings and art of all kinds. I have written feature stories about architecture, urban, rural and lakeside living, cool neighbourhoods, and everything from business to pleasure (tourism and travel).

I believe that powerful writing, too, can link the artistic with the practical.

My feature writing has appeared in: Ottawa Citizen, Winnipeg Free Press, The Western Producer, The Cottager, Manitoba Business Magazine, Manitoba’s Northern Experience, Home & City, Manitoba Gardener, Ciao and up! (WestJet’s magazine).

Barbara Edie