An Inspired Journey

Ashley Breeding 0 Comments

“My mom’s attitude and emotional distance left me, as the baby of my family, with no role model to help me understand the feminine side of my personality,” Mariel Hemingway shares in her autobiography, Finding My Balance: A Memoir With Yoga (Simon & Schuster). “This has been a constant problem in my life. What is a woman supposed to do? How is she supposed to act?”

As every life struggle uncovers that proverbial silver lining, Hemingway’s personal challenges propelled her toward a path of self-discovery and mental wellness, a career springboard for the actress, author, and businesswoman.

On a recent photo shoot for Palm Springs Life, Hemingway, 52, reveals a playful, goofy side as she demonstrates a game Susan Sarandon taught her recently: With the goal of maneuvering an After Eight dinner mint from her forehead into her mouth without letting it slip off her face, Hemingway tilts her head backward and twists it from side to side, pretending to slide the chocolate-coated candy around — like a silver ball in a game of Labyrinth. “Susan was the winner,” she concedes.

However, when Hemingway speaks of her passion for spreading mental health awareness (specifically, its tie to nutrition and connectivity with nature) — something she accomplishes through lectures around the country as well as through her writing — a mildly sober demeanor shadows this light persona. Extroverted and easygoing in her approach to life, Hemingway embodies a balance of softness and strength, seriousness and silliness, and work success and commitment to family.

As an ambassador for Cambria, a Minnesota-based certified green company that specializes in eco-minded kitchen interiors, Hemingway will be the keynote speaker at Palm Springs Life’s 2014 Women in Business Awards luncheon on May 21. The second annual event will honor dynamic women in the Coachella Valley who are making headlines in their fields.

At the event, Hemingway will talk about her inspiration as well as the role of women in the business world. “I believe design is a huge piece of our mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness,” she says of her Cambria ambassadorship. “It’s important to be mindful when creating a home that it’s filled with the kind of beauty that enhances your wellness … and I just love design. I always wanted to be an architect.”

 Beyond aesthetics, Hemingway, who describes herself as a “huge environmentalist,” is also an advocate of Cambria’s use of nontoxic materials and employment of American workers. “Their values align with those of my own family,” she says. “This is important in an age when so many things are made out of the country. It’s nice when people keep their focus in America and keep people employed here.”

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Hemingway will also share her professional strategies — namely, using her femininity to her advantage. “I’m a big believer that a woman’s approach to business is different than a man’s,” she says. “I don’t mean we should do this in a manipulative way, but we should be conscious of our gifts as women.” She also speaks to the imperativeness of women prioritizing their personal needs in order to thrive professionally: “We try to do too much — take care of everyone and everything,” she says. “We should not see taking care of ourselves first as a selfish thing. Our own sense of well-being that’s not attached to this is a key to balance and being truly successful.”

Amid a stressful upbringing with unconventional family dynamics, the granddaughter of legendary author Ernest Hemingway — who took his life just four months before she was born — searched for escape routes. She sought these not only in characters she played in films but also in nature, a place where Hemingway says she’s found solace since her early childhood in Sun Valley, Idaho, when her father, Jack Hemingway (son of Ernest and his first wife, Hadley Richardson), would drop her off and go fishing.

“He’d leave me in some place and go fish alone, and I would be left by myself to fend for myself,” Hemingway recalls. “At first it was disconcerting, but I became very adept at creating a world of my own. My best friend was a tree,” she jokes.

“Nature is a powerful teacher; it holds so many answers to our problems. It sits there without judgment, amazing and beautiful and wise. I believe God lives in nature, whatever that means, and holds the keys to a lot of wisdom. As corny as that sounds, sometimes I have these ‘aha’ moments that come just from being still and silent and listening to the messages nature has for me. As a kid, I also loved to jump in freezing- cold water because it made me feel alive and awake.”

As a teen starlet navigating city life — Hemingway made her debut performance in Lipstick at age 12 and later went on to play Woody Allen’s love interest in Manhattan at 16 — she longed for a more peaceful existence. “Like any kid from a small town, I went to Los Angeles and New York City wide-eyed and thinking, ‘Wow, this is exciting.’ But I was never completely at ease in that kind of bustling metropolis. I was always a little bit happier in the country, where things were more peaceful.”

 Splitting her time between Idaho and a suburban Los Angeles home where she grows her own gardens and connects with nature daily (“I’m trying to get my house a little more off the grid all of the time”), Hemingway says she also spends a lot of time in the Palm Springs area. “I love riding up the tram — to go from the desert to this cold mountain area is just so cool.” She and boyfriend Bobby Williams, with whom she recently collaborated on a health and lifestyle book called Running With Nature, also enjoy rock climbing in Joshua Tree. “The desert has some of the most extraordinary light I’ve ever seen,” she says. “If you get up early in the morning with the sunrise, it’s one of the most majestic places on the planet.”

Able to find her balance in life (to which she credits not only her connection to nature but also yoga, healthful eating, drinking good water, and spending time with family), Hemingway is able to revisit a tumultuous past in a positive and creative way. In addition to working on a podcast show and developing a new TV series, she is writing a film script based on Ernest Hemingway’s book  A Moveable Feast, written in Paris in the early 1920s.

“I think my grandfather’s work was extraordinary on many levels, and picking a favorite is hard to do,” she says. “This story has special meaning because it’s about the time my father was born. I feel that there’s a kinship to it … and it’s a book that many people have a soft spot for. There’s a sense that this book represented an artistic time in Europe that no other book does.”
Ambivalent about whether she should play a role in the film, Hemingway says she plans to continue acting, so long as the part is right.  

“I love to act, but I only want to do it if I feel that what I’m taking on has some meaning — even if it’s just meaning for me.”

Indeed, for Hemingway, it’s all about the act of balance.

 

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