Liz's Remarkable Journey
Oprah says she has seen women carrying this New York Times bestseller with them everywhere. "I've been counting down the days to this show!"
Liz's journey begins with a traumatic experience for her, but one which she thinks her readers can relate to. "If you consider that journey started on the bathroom floor, three in the morning, going through the beginnings of a divorce, sobbing my eyes out, it seems like this really low moment. On the other hand, who amongst us has not met our bathroom floor tiles at 3:00 a.m. from a quarter of an inch away?" Liz says. "I think that alone makes it a universal experience for people struggling with those similar questions."
Even though Liz had what many would consider the perfect life, she says she felt the call to leave. "I've had women come up to me before they left their marriage. 'Why am I complaining? He doesn't beat me,' [they would say]. Don't we aspire for more than just not being beaten?"
Liz keeps the details of her ex-husband and their marriage private throughout her book. "That wasn't really what it was about," she says. "It was about that I had woken up to the fact that my life no longer resembled me. It didn't look like me."
"I think I might have swallowed that except, thanks to how I was raised and the woman who raised me, I never got the memo that said you're not allowed to become the hero of your own life's journey," Liz says.
The turning point for Liz was when she realized how willingly she had gone along with major decisions in her life. "Oh, sure, let's move in together, let's get married, let's buy a house, let's do all this stuff that I was sort of half yes, half no," she says.
"I didn't want to hold up the train of progress, so I just always said yes. I never knew at that age, in my 20s, that I don't know is actually a legitimate answer that you're allowed to say. And you're allowed to ask for as much time as you need until you do know."
But Liz knew one thing for sureshe did not want to have a child. "When it came to let's have a kid, that's where I thoughtI cannot make that decision from a place of yes and no. That has to be a yes, or it can't happen."
To help find the answer, Liz began keeping a journal where she would ask herself deeper questions as if she were her own friend. "I was going to write myself everything I've always wanted somebody to say to me when I'm in my deepest despair," she says.
"I would write I am in so much trouble. I need you. And there it would beI would write back, I am here. What do you need? You know. Tell me. I love you. What do you need?"
Liz says she does not know where the voice came from but says, "I know that it came through me but it was not entirely me. As long as you believe on it and lean on it and listen to it, I'm not sure that it does matter. It's just there when you need it."
Liz boldly traveled to Italy, alone and hardly knowing the language before she left. "When I told my American friends, 'I'm gonna go study pleasure for four months,' they were like, 'Can you do that?' And when I told my Italian friends, 'I'm here to study pleasure,' they're like, 'Vivant, be our guest! Knock yourself out. Why only four months?'"
Liz says she made a rule that she would never feel guilty about the food she was eating in Italy. "I'm not going to beat myself up for something that is so simply wonderful as this meal," she says. "What if you just did what you wanted, that would make you happy every day for four months? And how horrible would it be, really, because the things I wanted were harmless to anyone else—except maybe my jeans!"
"I did a little meditation test on myself one night. I said, 'I'm not moving from this place. I'm going to meditate.' And then came the mosquitoes. And I thought, I'm not going to slap at them because I've spent my life slapping away at every little reflexive thing that irritates me, and I'm going to sit through this to show I'm the master of myself and we'll start with the mosquito bites and work down to the soul—and it kind of worked.
"None of this works without stillness," Liz says. "One of the great teachings that I learned in India is that silence is the only true religion."
Liz says that learning to be still was a discipline she had to learn. "I think many of us are like that, and we set up our lives so that we do not need to be with ourselves. I was in an elevator in New York the other day, coming up in an elevator and there's a television set in the elevator. Heaven forbid anyone should have to spend eight seconds alone! You know? Because it's so scary."
Richard says he came to the ashram on his own personal journey. "I'd been meditating for some time and I just wanted to go deeper within and I wanted to find the quietest place that was most conducive for that," Richard says. "So I went to an ashram in India. The particular ashram that was the mother ashram of the path that I was on."
What did Richard think of Liz when he first met her? "Well, she seemed like a combination of Henny Penny and Chatty Cathy. She had these issues of a lifetime swirling around her head like flies, and she was just kind of going around as if they weren't even there. But yet trying to swat them away at the same time," he says. "It was the perfect thing to be happening to her, and it was the perfect time for it to be happening. And the perfect place."
While they were at the ashram, Richard gave Liz an unusual nickname—Groceries. "She really enjoyed her food. And she spoke to it as she ate," he says. "So I would hear this, 'Hmm. Oh, mm' And I thought this woman really enjoys her groceries. So I started calling her Groceries."
The best thing Richard told Liz came about as she was mourning her most recent breakup. "I kept saying, 'I wish, I wish, I wish I still had my ex-boyfriend. I wish he still loved me.' And he said, 'Groceries, you've got to stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone ought to be,'" she says. "You can build your whole life on that line, you know? What are you—wishbone or backbone? Come on. Step up to it."
Although they studied at the same ashram, Liz and Richard's meditations were very different. "I have the more mundane, milk and toast meditation experiences. I don't get the colors, the sounds, and the whirling and swirling," he says. "Each of us are complete beings, complete humans, complete lives, and what's appropriate for another person may not be appropriate for me. So I just quietly go on about my business."
The experience was the best feeling Liz says she ever had. "I thought I wanted to hold onto this forever and it went by, you know? Like the minute you want to grab it and cling to it, it's gone," she says. "The minute your wishbone comes back, it goes. And what it sort of said as it went was, you can have this back once you realize you already have it and you always have it, and you'll always have it."
Liz says that since her trip to India, she hasn't reached that level of meditation again. "But I also haven't chased it, and I also feel like there's this great Japanese ancient poem that says, 'When I stand on the mountaintop, the world unfolds before me. When I walk through the marketplace, I carry the mountaintop under my robes,'" she says. "Once you've seen that, you get to take it with you in your mundane life, and you know. It's like in your pocket. You know this truth. You don't have to know it from the place of experiencing it. You just remember and it's enough."
On a previous trip to Bali, Liz met a medicine man named Ketut Liyer, who had predicted she would return one day. "I went back there following what he had said, 'You're going to come back here, and you're going to become my teacher of English, and I'm going to teach you everything about the world," Liz says. But when she finally returned, Ketut did not remember her.
Still, the medicine man took Liz under his wing. "I went to Ketut Liyer's house every day and sat at his feet. This man who had really never left his porch in this very small village and this very small island of Bali just allowed me to become his little student for a while," Liz says.
While sitting with Ketut, Liz says she learned a more simple type of meditation. "He said, 'Why do they make it so complicated in India with the meditation?' He said, 'I'll give you a meditation. Sit and smile,' he said. Even smile in your liver," Liz says. "Smile all the way through. Sit there and smile all the way through and see if that doesn't work a little bit to start to change your life and cause a little revolution in your mind."
Liz fell in love with a Brazilian man named Felipe. In the book, Liz writes, "Felipe finally put his palm against my cheek and said, 'That's enough, darling. Come to my bed now.' And I did."
Liz's eyes water as she talks about Felipe. "I loved what he said when he said, 'That's enough,'" she says. "Because we'd been courting for weeks. And he didn't say, 'That's enough of you not giving me you.' You know? What he said was, 'That's enough of you on your own in this world. Now I'm with you. Come on. Let's go together now. That's enough. You proved it. You can do it on your own. And now you get to have that and me. So let's go.'"
Did their love last beyond Bali? "Things are so good," Liz says as she looks at a photo of herself with Felipe on the screen. "That's us. On our wedding day."
- Start a journal and answer this question every morning: What do I really, really, really want? "You have to say really, really, really three times or else you don't believe it. And answer it truthfully and do it again the next day and the next and the next," she says. "Because you can't set your journey if you don't know what you're for."
- Write down the happiest moment of every day in a happiness journal. "It's a way of reminding myself what really makes me happy and what doesn't," she says, "and learn and study and look back and see what is it consistently."
- Refine your mantra. "I say refine, not choose, because we all actually already have a mantra. We just might not realize that we do. Whatever you repeat constantly in your head is your mantra whether you know it or not, and that is leading you on your way," she says. "So if you're repeating, 'I'm a moron, I'm an idiot, I'm a failure, I'm a jerk, I'm a loser,' it's your mantra. So decide whether that's working for you. Maybe it's not and then maybe you might want to choose a different thing to try to say whenever you remember that you're thinking what you're always doing."
"This is one of the greatest love stories I have ever read," Oprah says. "It's a captivating story about a passionate but troubled love affair that takes place over the course of 50 years. It is so beautifully written that it really takes you to another place in time and will make you ask yourself how long could you, or would you, wait for love?"
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