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Mariel Hemingway: Learning From Her Legacy

interviewed by Joanne Doanesperanza magazine Fall 2008 Cover Image

Mariel Hemingway is all about balance. She's such a strong proponent of it, in fact, that she began seeking it out decades before it came into vogue as a philosophy for living. Growing up in the limelight, she struggled to attain equilibrium within an iconic American clan whose celebrity was often eclipsed by heartache and tragedy—including the suicide of her grandfather, Nobel Prize-winning novelist Ernest Hemingway, and her sister, Margaux, one of the country's first supermodels.

In her memoir, the Academy Award-nominated actress recalls the Hemingway household swinging on a "pendulum of extremes" where family members grappled with depression, addiction, guilt, and bitterness. For a teenage Mariel, finding ways to achieve a sense of calm and control amidst the emotional chaos was an almost instinctual reaction. We all have different reasons for seeking a balanced life, she writes in Finding My Balance (Simon & Schuster, 2002). "When I started on my journey, I wasn't reacting to the environmental hazards of today or the sheer pressure of life and work. I was just trying to survive." Now 47, Mariel Hemingway has more than survived—she has flourished, emerging from the turbulence of her family circle to become a compassionate voice for suicide prevention and mental health.

An advocate of holistic living and an avid yoga practitioner, Hemingway contends that balance in everyday life doesn't require a major overhaul of habits, but simple changes to the way we approach diet, exercise, quiet time, and our surroundings. Her approach is fleshed out in the self-help guide Mariel Hemingway's Healthy Living from the Inside Out (HarperOne, 2007).

Before speaking at a fundraiser for psychiatric research, Hemingway sat down with esparanza's publisher Joanne Doan to discuss the hard-won wisdom she's earned from her family's legacy—and how making peace with that legacy has helped her mind, body, and soul...

Read Mariel’s Wellness Tips.

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