SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

April 18, 2013

Heard of a ‘happy’ Hemmingway?


Mariel Hemingway and her partner, Bobby Williams, at their home in Calabasas, Calif.

Hemingway earnest about helping others       

live happily


LOS ANGELES — What’s disarming about Mariel Hemingway is her forthright approach to a rough family history, not to mention her determination to live the happy and healthy life that eluded so many of her relatives.    • She knows a lot, she says, about what is needed to have such a life — whatever a person’s pedigree.   • She has seen enough unhappiness, after all, to last many lifetimes:    for starters, the suicides of her supermodel sister and her famous grandfather, Ernest Hemingway, as well as those of five other relatives.    • And then there’s the depression she endured for many years.

With a new documentary, Running From Crazy, and a book, The WillingWay, written with business and romantic partner Bobby Williams, she hopes to inspire others to find their best lives.

“We invite you to look at how you are living your life,” she says, and from there, make changes — be it a different breakfast or a different spouse.

Williams and Hemingway, perhaps best-known for her Oscar-nominated performance in Manhattan, try to practice what they preach at WillingWay Ranch, not far from Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif.

The ranch is their home and laboratory.

Everything there supports their view that simple things make them healthier and happier, Hemingway says.

They readily acknowledge their blessings, especially the chance to turn what they love into their work promoting physical and mental health.

That wasn’t always the case.

The youngest of three girls born to Jack Hemingway — the son of writer Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson — turned to nature to escape a family for which alcohol, fights and mental illness all played outsize roles, she says.

  • “Nature was the only solace I had,” says Hemingway, who has become an advocate of suicide prevention.

Running From Crazy — which was made by Oscar winner Barbara Kopple and premiered at the Sundance Film Festival — uses archival family footage to provide a haunting look at suicide and mental illness.

Hemingway spent a lifetime looking “shiny and happy for everyone,” she says.

She looked everywhere for a solution to her depression — “until the ripe old age of 47, when I realized the answer is in me.”

Williams, on the other hand, says he always questioned everything, living a life his father calls “alternative.”

But, to Williams, most people get it wrong: eating “synthetic, processed and irradiated food” and scrimping through decades of 80-hour workweeks to fund medical interventions in later years.

If other people see their choices as a little odd, that’s OK, Hemingway says.

“We want to inspire people to find the adventure that works for them.”

The WillingWay (Changing Lives, 218 pages, $21.99), released in March, plays on the couple’s names and their philosophy: Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

It is organized with a system of points users can amass for behaviors based on a good deal of common sense: Eat well, sleep enough, exercise. Be mindful of the time you have.


(I know the world is full of self-help books – – up the gazoo.   Many however are technical or based on “shoulds,” you know – – the right way to do stuff.    That’s okay.  Except, most of us have been strongly led by parents,   teachers,    the law,  and all the worlds experts who have the “real” low-down.    Often, we have used up half our lives trying everybody’s advice and still wondering what its all about.  And hurting.  

We’ve all been told the answers are within, but mostly, people don’t believe that.  Many of us don’t feel we are really entitled to be happy or feel good. . . . .   .    so we’re not,. . . we don’t.  Some of us, right or wrong,  KNOW we  like feeling happy over feeling down.   .   .   and some of us are brazen enough to DO IT!   Mariel is an expert of a different kind  – – she’s been there and done it about all. In my opinion, she has earned the right to speak on a subject she knows exceedingly well. Good for them.    Jan)


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