Transform Yourself in New York

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a chance for change waits around every corner

by lorraine duffy merkl

i spent a week on the east end doing my own version of eat pray love. i called it eat. play. sun.

feeling quite brand new, i understand how the change did elizabeth gilbert good, but for the life of me, i still don't quite understand why she had to go to three different countries for a year to "wake up and marvel at something."

i did that each morning when i opened my eyes to the atlantic ocean. adding to the "marvelousness" was the salt air, the wind in my face while bike riding and long walks on the beach. also, i didn't touch a computer for a week-i know, i still can't believe it either. i didn't even do any writing.

upon arriving home, i decided that i wanted to hold on to my good feelings. who says you can't be where you are normally and transform?

this is the greatest city in the world-and yes, it is expensive, busy and often stressful. but it's also the place where people come from all over the country and world, embrace everything we are and begin anew.

the things that make this "the" place to live (the history, the architecture, the hustle and bustle, the diversity of people and neighborhoods) are the things books, movies and songs are made of.

i see no reason why gilbert's epl-lessons can't play out right in manhattan.

eat: ok. this one is a no-brainer. seriously, pick an avenue. choose a street. decide on an ethnic cuisine, as well as a price point and her "no carb left behind" diet is right there waiting.

even if we're starving, we're still willing to wait for a good meal, evidenced by the line to get into the new shake shack on east 86th street. i think it's safe to say that we new yorkers already have the "eat" part down.

pray: without getting into the ground zero mosque issue, houses of worship are everywhere. if organized religion isn't your thing, there are plenty of opportunities to find inner peace through helping others (try, as elizabeth did when she arranged for a single mother in bali to build a house.

i see plenty of people running around with yoga mats, so you can jump on the "ohm" bandwagon as gilbert did pretty easily as well.

the real beauty of manhattan, however, is that you can find spirituality by genuflecting at the alter of culture and creativity in any of our many museums; get in touch with nature on any park bench; you can even rent a bike and ride around la elizabeth.

love: there's a reason why "i love new york" was our slogan for so long. there's so much to do and see here.

you can also find love here. i know a lot of people will roll their eyes at that, especially if you watched sex and the city, where single people were portrayed as crazy, false or non-committal.

new york is a small place with so many opportunities. you just need to be open, and i don't just mean your heart. if you want to meet new people, go to new places. again, elizabeth went to bali to find whom she was meant to meet. i truly believe you need not go farther than brooklyn. my brother-in-law and his wife met on the 6 train. i know two people who met doing volunteer work.

some have to travel halfway around the world to find what new yorkers have around every corner: a chance for change.


lorraine duffy merkl's debut novel fat chick, from the vineyard press, is available at and

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