Woman Crush Month

Woman Crush Month – Elizabeth Gilbert

Artwork by Chloe Bruderer

Woman Crush Month is a month-long series by the girls of She Did What She Wanted
in celebration of Women’s History Month.

By Anna Myers

Elizabeth Gilbert kinda saved my life.

Well, she saved my career, that’s for sure.

When I read Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear for the first time, I was at my absolute lowest, lonely and sad, eating my feelings night after night, drained of every bit of energy that’d kept me going in the previous few months, and asking myself how long it’d be before I’d throw in the towel and bid goodbye to a career in the arts.

Then, I found Elizabeth’s Big Magic podcast and listened to five episodes in a row. I was addicted. It was that good, it was everything. In it, she talks to creatives about their journey and struggles, high and low points, asks for their tips and lessons they’ve learned on how to live a creatively fulfilling life without succumbing to the pain and fear that necessarily come with it -and that so often are only there to teach us a valuable lesson. She speaks of creative living like you would a baby, a precious baby you need to mother, nurture, and watch grow into something beautiful. She speaks of it with admiration, in soft tones and joyful notes, and not at all in the harsh and demanding way I was so used to. 

I could already feel a sparkle, something in me saying, “Yeah, this could work. After this, I could keep going. Maybe I don’t have to give up.” And then one morning, after my Pilates class (I don’t try to be such a cliché, I swear, it just comes naturally), I spotted Big Magic the book in the studio’s shop section. With its blue and purple cover screaming “Me, me, me!” and its name reminding me of something familiar, something I’d loved so much, I picked it up and started crying before I’d even finished reading the first chapter.

Elizabeth Gilbert has done a lot of amazing things in her life. Sshe wrote one of the best selling books of 2006, Eat Pray Love, which was adored worldwide, stayed on The New York Times Best Seller list for 187 weeks, and was made into a movie starring Julia Roberts. She divorced a man she wasn’t in love with anymore to travel the world and find a deeper meaning to her existence. She wrote other wonderful books, too, and more recently, she came out in a statement that read “I am in love worth my best friend” (fellow writer and creative Rayya Elias). She, along with several other authors, helped raise funds for Syrian refugees in 2015. She was named amongst the most influential people in the world by TIME Magazine. She’s probably done a million other amazing things no one knows about, and I love, admire and applaud her for all of them. But she did something for me, personally, that forever changed me in the best way I could think of: she gave me a new chance, a new shot at my dream.

With her help, I’ve learned to be easier on myself, to forgive myself for not always being in top form and sometimes needing an hour to get out of bed because of something I wrote and hated, a bad audition, or simply a day where creative fuel just escapes me. I’ve learned to forgive myself for a lot of things I needed to, all because of her.

All because of Big Magic, which contains gems like:

  • “The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them. The hunt to uncover those jewels, that’s creative living.”
  • “You can believe that you are neither a slave to inspiration nor its master, but something far more interesting -its partner- and that the two of you are working together towards something intriguing and worthwhile.”
  • “If you’re alive, you’re a creative person. The guardians of high culture will try to convince you that the arts belong only to a chosen few, but they are wrong and they are also annoying -we all all makers by design.”(my favorite)

I know I am not alone in feeling so strongly about Liz (I like to call her Liz – in my head, we’re friends) because, in the year and a half since Big Magic was published, what feels like quite literally everybody I know has raved about it and sang its praise – writers, actors, singers, poets, painters, architects, bartenders. Everyone and anyone can learn how to live a little better from Liz Gilbert, since that’s the best reason I can think of to celebrate somebody, I hope you, too, can lean into her magic. And maybe make some magic, too.

She Did What She Wanted firmly believes there’s nothing better than women empowering other women, so when we found out March is Women’s History Month, we knew we needed to do something special. There are too many amazing women to fit into just thirty one days, but to do our best, we invited our contributors to write about the favorite women in their lives, and Woman Crush Month came to be. #WCM is the ultimate girl power party, and it’s all about women celebrating women and their achievements, and we personally can’t think of anything better than that.

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