Mariel is the type of woman who has endless stories that stretch far beyond a familiar last name. She started her career young and in Hollywood, which for some people, may have been a recipe for disaster. For Mariel, it meant a Golden Globe nomination at 14, followed by a role alongside Woody Allen in Manhattan.
Mariel can speak more about family dynamic than most people you probably know, and has a deep and contagious passion for life. It’s clear now where her daughters (who we’re very fond of here in the studio), Dree and Langley, get it from. Strong, sentimental, and humorous – all of those qualities are in her. I know the team had a blast shooting with her in her home in LA. She was laughing, talking, and jumping everywhere!
Today, as a mental health and healthful lifestyle advocate, she’s written 9 books – a trade that quite possibly runs in the family, but more than that, the message she imparts is so personal and inspiring.
We asked her to share a bit of that knowledge with us, and she told us about her quest for perfection and control and how in place of that, she found the beauty of change. In her words today, Mariel Hemingway.
Mariel Hemingway | Actress & Author
One of the most important things I have learned in life is how to feel about change. When I was young and I came up against tough times or situations I imagined that they would never go away. But challenges were only as concrete as the power I gave them. Before I understood this I got caught up in repetitive thoughts of worry and fear, and difficulties stayed as long as those thoughts were held in one place, my mind. When I realized that circumstance is not infallible but actually fluid and changeable my life turned around and I found peace.
Like everyone, I have had times when I was so unhappy that I was afraid I would always feel badly. Whether my fears incubated in an unhealthy relationship, troubled family, or a deep sense of insecurity, it took me years to understand that my life was a result of how I was thinking. It also took me a long time to realize that I have control over my thoughts, and I am responsible for them.
So much of my past I was focused on perfecting myself on every level and was obsessive about it. That is not control over thoughts, that is trying to control the evolution of change. I believed that if I ate strictly, over-exercised, and did things in a particular order I could create happiness. I went through times of eating in extreme ways (I have been vegan, macrobiotic, no fat, high protein, all fruit, nothing but popcorn to name a few) to exercising till I literally fell down from exhaustion all the time believing I was in control. When I ask myself what my (deep) thoughts were back then I see that they were based in fear. Fear of losing it… literally becoming mentally unstable like my sisters or getting physically sick like my mother was when I was growing up.
I understand now that this type of laser focus on something I feared was simply my way of trying to grasp a sense of control in what I felt was the potential chaos of things changing. My choices from the outside looked healthy but they stemmed from and were fueled by fear. I was completely resistant to change. The irony is the proof that my thoughts created my reality… my over-exercising and compulsive eating were making me physically weak, plus my obsessive habits were making me sad. I was literally manifesting (thinking into existence) the outcome I feared the most.
My life now is completely different. After years of fighting what is, I have finally learned how incredibly useless that exercise is. Fighting being present, fighting seeing what is good and beautiful is stopping the natural flow of existence. Also being honest with myself about how I really feel and where those feelings stem from is like being let out of jail. I am not in perfect balance all the time but I understand the fluidity of how things change.
My years of trying to be perfect were not completely useless though. Principles like discipline in movement and food choices have taught me invaluable lessons about healthy living. All of my past extremes have lead me to a middle ground where now I make mindful choices daily (and they change daily) that make sense for me. Whether I am vegan one day or Paleo the next or I do yoga, hike, bike, run or climb, I make those choices with awareness and they don’t come from compulsive thought patterns. I eat the way I feel is appropriate for my sense of balance. I always eat ethically because I believe that compassion and kindness are necessary principles to make all choices from. Yoga has taught me how to listen to my body (and mind) and hear what it needs. I use a yogic attitude when I am doing anything physical. I feel into what I am doing, in whatever sport or movement and feel if it is good for me, if it will lift me up and make me better, I choose that.
The realization that change is inevitable and understanding that my thoughts are the wizard behind the curtain is my solace. Are my thoughts continually pure and good and without worry? No, but the difference now is that when negative, dark, or angry thoughts come into my mind I am quick to see them. I am more aware, present and connected. I now know that fearful thoughts don’t define me and the fact that I can take a step back and look at them gives me the ability to alter them (i.e. control my thoughts) and when they change then a shift of circumstance is almost instantaneous and I feel okay again.
Change in its pure form is actually transformation and it’s beautiful to me now… it mirrors everything in life beginning with our cells… they are always moving, changing, multiplying, and transforming into something more or different. I find it comforting knowing that I am part of that great movement. This dance of life is astonishing and we are all a part of it… how incredible is that?