Big Magic in Asheville

asheville big magic book reading elizabeth gilbert

As soon as the tall, leggy blond walked on stage I began to get choked up. I was surprised at how instantaneously my eyes filled with tears. My mouth pursed shut with emotion. There she was: Elizabeth Gilbert.

Elizabeth mother fucking Gilbert.

If you haven’t heard of Elizabeth Gilbert chances are you’ve probably heard of her most popular work Eat Pray Love. The tale of Gilbert’s post-divorce travels through Italy, India and Indonesia sold millions of copies. It was made into a movie starring Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem. (No big deal.) Chances are, too, you know someone whose life has been changed in some way by Eat Pray Love. Without going into too much detail, I am one of those people. Eat Pray Love was my companion during one of the loneliest, scariest and hardest times in my life. I never felt alone because that book was with me. And, much like Gilbert, the tribulations of that time in my life turned out to be one of my favorite parts of my own story.

So, there I was: tearing up in the Asheville High School auditorium balcony at the sight of Elizabeth Gilbert — a woman I’d never met. (Unbeknownst to me, my friend Melissa over at Driftyland was getting choked up right beside me.) Thankfully, Liz Gilbert immediately cut a joke. Our watery eyes disappeared and the rest of the evening was spent listening to Gilbert read a passage or two from her newly published work Big Magic and respond to questions from the audience.

big magic

I wanted to share with you two tidbits of Gilbert wisdom I’ve been marinating in since that evening.

“Self-care requires great self-discipline.”

This is something that Elizabeth Gilbert provided as an explanation as to why she wouldn’t be doing any book signing that night. (She’d already signed all of our books prior to purchase.) She’s so right; self-care requires dedication. Dedication requires discipline. I’d been thinking about this so much prior to attending this book reading, but have a renewed sense of discipline surrounding my own self care as a result. You cannot do, be, or create your best if you are unwell, stressed, tired or just not at your best. We must all carve out time, space and love for ourselves.

“Be wary of those who say they are brutally honest; what they’re really saying is,

‘Give me the opportunity to brutalize you.’”

None of us need unkind people in our lives. Honesty and brutality do not need to mix. If someone cannot provide feedback, criticism or their own opinion without shredding your tenderness and confidence then find another sounding board. As Melissa always reminds me, “Question why people say certain things out loud.” I think how matters just as much as why.


Aside from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book reading, Asheville was a great trip. The fall foliage was just as you’d expect— bright and burning and colorful. Melissa and I laughed— a lot. We played endless rounds of 20 Questions. We were silly and introspective. We relaxed in hammocks (while reading Big Magic, of course). We ate scrumptious food and drank delicious wine. It was a weekend of slowness and recuperation. It was a weekend we deserved.


Eat: Biscuit Head

Our co-worker recommended — rather, demanded — that we go to Biscuit Head for breakfast during our trip. I’ve never been so happy to take a friend’s recommendation. Biscuit Head makes some of the best — if not the best — biscuits I’ve ever had in a restaurant. Substantial yet delicate, fluffy and full of flavor, Biscuit Head’s biscuits are worth a trip to Asheville in their own right. Of course, any place that offers “sides” of fried chicken has to be good, right? Speaking of which, everything on the menu looked and sounded sublime. I enjoyed the Fried Green Tomato — fresh tomato slices, fried green tomatoes, brie, poached eggs and salsa all piled high on a biscuit.


Go: French Broad Chocolates

From decadent hot chocolate to chai crême brulée, French Broad Chocolates‘ inventive approach to sweets of all incarnations makes it a must for anyone with a sweet tooth. The charming chocolate lounge is a great place to people watch and rest after walking around downtown all day.


Eat: Rhubarb

After a disappointing first supper in Asheville, dinner at Rhubarb redeemed Asheville’s status as a southern food destination. Seated at the bar, Melissa and I were served house made caramel corn and treated to a delicious wine list. “Bet you can’t guess the secret ingredient in our caramel corn!” (I guessed it on the first try — but you’ll have to visit Rhubarb yourself to discover what makes their caramel corn so special and addictive.) Aside from great — and free — bar snacks, Rhubarb offers a great cheese plate, friendly staff, games of Connect Four and tasty food. The pièce de résistance was a pork collar that was so tender, so magnificent that Melissa and I kept lifting forkfuls to our mouths despite being already full. Highly recommend.

Melissa laughing in the hammock outside our AirBnB. I love this photo of her!
The rapturous pork collar.
Cheese plate, enough said. Those chardonnay roasted grapes, doe.



One thought on “Big Magic in Asheville

  1. Pingback: The 101 in 1,001 |

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