Beyond Leia

Image: Rolling Stone Magazine/Aaron Rapoport/Corbis

Image: Rolling Stone Magazine/Aaron Rapoport/Corbis

 
I am Princess Leia, no matter what. If I were trying to get a good table, I wouldn’t say I wrote Postcards (From the Edge). Or, if I’m trying to get someone to take my check and I don’t have ID, I wouldn’t say: ‘Have you seen (When) Harry Met Sally?’ Princess Leia will be on my tombstone.
— Carrie Fisher
 

I was five years old in 1977, the year Carrie Fisher first took on the role of Princess Leia. As a toddler, I didn't see Star Wars when it first came out; so my earliest visual memory of Leia was not in a white robe with side buns, but rather in this gold slave bikini and long braid from 1983's Return of the Jedi.

I eventually saw the first film, along with its sequel The Empire Strikes Back, and witnessed the debut of the gun-toting Leia, with her sharp tongued quips and calm under fire demeanor that not only left Han Solo and Luke Skywalker in dumbstruck awe of her, but also firmly established her as the original cinematic female action hero. 

Leia was stubborn, courageous and formidable... put simply, a genuine badass. The image of her in that gold bikini, chained to the slimy, alien slug gangster Jabba the Hutt, definitely stuck with me; not to mention how she killed him wearing that same outfit with the very chain that bound her.

So much of Princess Leia's charm, grit and attraction is due to the fact that Carrie Fisher was the one who brought her to life onscreen. Leia exuded Carrie's strength of character, resilience, and dogged determination to reject norms, defy limited expectations, and surpass and defeat the literal and figurative restraints that an alien slug, or anyone else, tried to put on her.

Yet as strong, lovely, and memorable as she was in the Star Wars films, Carrie Fisher was much more than Princess Leia to so many, including me. In the whole of my life, she emerged beyond Leia, inhabiting other roles and other identities that have endeared her to me even more...

... more as Meg Ryan's best friend in one of my all-time favorite films, When Harry Met Sally. While in college in the early 1990's, Carrie was a big part of nursing me back to health and comforting me when I just needed to cuddle up and escape into a movie. As a Film Studies major, this was my go-to movie to put on when I was sick, burnt out from studying, or in need of a break from all the cerebral and abstract foreign films I watched in film class.

... more for her connection to my family, as the daughter of the late Debbie Reynolds, the legendary entertainer who headlined Vegas alongside my dad in the late 1970's; and as the half sister of Joely and Tricia Leigh Fisher, daughters of Connie Stevens, also a renowned actress and singer, who started a vocal group with my dad back in the 1950's and who ultimately became one of my mom's best friends.

... more for the kinship I felt with her as a fellow daughter of an entertainer father that seemed to be much more accessible to his fans then he was to his children.

... more for her bravery and transparency about her mental illness, and how she didn't let it stop her from living her life on her terms. I know a thing or two about being outspoken and honest to the point that it sometimes makes others uncomfortable, and I love that Carrie spoke her mind on topics that mattered to her, or of which she had a strong opinion. Not only did she free herself from the stigma of an illness that is often misunderstood and dismissed as imaginary or manufactured; but she helped others to feel free of it through her public candor and her writing.

... and yes, more than anything, Carrie Fisher is endeared to me for her talent as a writer, and her propensity to tell the barefaced truth. To be a good writer you need to be fearless and free; not only do you need to possess the courage to say what others won't, but also to have the forte to write what others can't. Carrie was all this and more. I aspire to be like her, and to write with the same courage and flair that she did.

The overwhelming respect and regard I have for her, her work, her honesty, her love of words, and her legacy of living life in the most unabashedly real way, far eclipses any admiration I hold for her as that beautiful, bikini-clad woman. Carrie was proud and unashamed to be who she was, and she worked and lived to ensure that her worth was not solely measured by the veil of her perceived privilege, nor the fleeting nature of her physical beauty.

And for that, I believe she succeeded famously.

Rest in peace, badass princess.

Carrie Fisher
1956 - 2016

Carrie-Fisher-Time-2015-Photo-Shoot-Star-Wars-thumb-430xauto-64608.jpeg
 
Youth and beauty are not accomplishments. They’re the temporary happy by-products of time and/or DNA. Don’t hold your breath for either.
— Carrie Fisher
 

June Gloom

junegloom
Here in Malibu, we have a weather condition called June Gloom. It's when the inland heat traveling over the mountains meets the cold Pacific Ocean at the beginning of summer, resulting in cloudy, overcast skies and cool temperatures.
This past month, this website has suffered its own variety of June Gloom. It's when the end of the school year meets this mom's especially overloaded schedule at the beginning of the summer, resulting in the absence of new blog posts.
It's not that I didn't write. I write all the time... In my head, via voice activated notes on my phone, on my tablet in bed at night, and in saved drafts on this website. God knows I always have more than enough to say and write, as my mind seems to always be going, thinking, and contemplating.
The kids have been on summer break for three weeks now, and it's been an unexpected and insurmountable challenge to meet my original goal of posting (at least) one new blog each month. And although I have a laundry list of reasons why this has been, it's not a list comprised of "woe is me" excuses; nor is it filled with reasons for which I want or expect to garner pity.
Most of these reasons are common to us all, as they are what make up the summation of LIFE... of simply being human. Of being fallible, vulnerable, imperfect, and alive.
Of having kids that don't want to do summer camps but rather want to play freely with each other (and me). Of goodbyes to best friends moving out of state and husbands having birthday/fathers day trips planned. Of family visits and friends' tragedies. Of past connections disconnecting and other relationships blooming.
Of mass shootings, troubling presidential campaigns, and a global state of unrest. Of major work deadlines prompting working late nights to meet them. Of marriage trials, emotional tribulations, and parenting travails. Of women needing women, female uprisings, and true friendships being recognized as more vital than ever before.
Of life presenting itself in all its glory, all its suffering, all its possibility, all its hope.
Of all of it.
There's so much to say, think, feel, and do about it all, and not enough time to effectively do so - especially when your kids and their emotional well being are your first priority; and when you believe that there are certain times when people and relationships must come first - and matter more - than personal aspirations.
Even though the writing happens, as it is an inescapable part of me, the sharing of it has to take a back seat sometimes.
Therefore, in lieu of a well-crafted new blog piece, I am sharing some quick posts I made to social media in the month of June.
Love and light to all...

 

June 30, 2016

Here's an early post in the life of this blog - part memoir, part ode to running, and part self reflection on the harried life I was living when I wrote it (and who are we kidding, still live today to a certain extent). So, in the absence of any new posts I have been challenged to finish with two kids home for the summer, why not read this one!

The Road to You

When I was a kid, I wasn’t much of an athlete. I never participated in any team sports, nor did I have any kind of athletic goals. I think the reason was the not-so-unique combination of shyness, insecurity, and a fear of taking risks. Yet these qualities only reared their ugly heads when I was around people I didn't know. As I was often under close observation in public as a child, seen by many but not heard by most, my shyness was in direct correlation with the pressure I felt to be perfect and the feeling of being sized up and judged by others.  Read more>>

 

June 21, 2016

Celebrating International Yoga Day:

This photo was taken when I was in an elated state during my intensive yoga teacher training.

If you haven't visited my blog website, and have only seen "@happyalongthebu" as a social media handle, then you may not know that H.A.P.P.Y. is really an acronym. (I am definitely not "Happy in Malibu" all the time, as it reads without the periods!)

The H.A.P.P.Y. in this blog's title actually stands for Hope, Awareness, Positivity, Perseverance, and Yoga.

And even though Yoga is last in line, it is just as vital to me as the four other states of mind and being to live the life I want to live. #internationalyogaday

 

June 21, 2016

A piece I wrote on the power of yoga and the man who inspired me to make it a vital part of my life 19 years ago. ‪#‎internationalyogaday‬

bryankest&I

Bryan Kest: The Man Behind The Power of Yoga

So I decided I was going to write about Power Yoga innovator Bryan Kest... and then, I couldn't.

I was so compelled to comment on my eighteen years as a student of his classes in Santa Monica and online, as well as on my recent experience completing his Power Yoga Teacher Training Intensive, that I thought the words would just pour out of me; so much so that I would have a hard time editing them all down to an approachable, readable post. But when I sat down and put fingers to keyboard, no cohesive thoughts came out.  Read More>>

 

June 20, 2016

Went camping, SUP (Stand Up Paddleboarding), and boating with the family for five days, all in celebration of my husband's birthday and Father's Day. No internet at our campsite in the middle of the dense forest meant no email, texts, or social media read, answered, or checked... no snapshots shared instantly, and no check-ins made. Just the four of us alone, vacationing together as a family, like in the days of yore. I'm sure I'll have more to say on the subject when I finally sit down to write, but only after emerging from this huge pile of campfire-infused laundry. #‎nofilter‬ ‪#‎shaverlake‬ ‪#‎unplugged‬ ‪#‎offthegrid‬ ‪#‎familyvacation

 

June 9, 2016

I turned 44 years old exactly two weeks ago. Palindromic birthday years have always been turning points in my life...

At 11, my parents got divorced, we moved out of my childhood home, and my love for (and escape into) movies began with my first viewing of Gone with the Wind. At 22, I graduated college, landed my first job on a major Hollywood studio film set, and got my heart dutifully broken for the first time. At 33, I was newly wed, bought my first home, and became pregnant with my first child.

What does 44 have in store for me? Although the significance of this year is still yet to be determined, I think this birthday's first weekend (the details of which I wrote about in my latest blog post below) was definitely a good start.

Birthday Weekend Away. In Short. Gratitude.

Going out of town solo for my birthday weekend has become kind of an accidental tradition. I've gone away on a birthday trip each year since 2013, either venturing inland to Los Angeles or trading the shores of Malibu for those of Newport Beach, always seeking sanctuary from the challenges of my hectic, kid- centric life for a day or two... or three.  Read more>>

 

June 7, 2016

#kissthevote #californiaprimary2016

kissthevote

 

June 6, 2016

From my front deck, I can hear the sound of my five-year-old boy and nine-year-old girl laughing and chanting in play as they jump in unison, holding hands, on the trampoline together around the side of the house. As the soundtrack of these siblings' lives is often fraught with conflict and discord, their age gap seeming to get more and more expansive as they grow older, it is music to my ears to hear such joy and harmony between them; and maybe a little bit magical... so much so that I tried to capture a snippet of the audible magic while it lasted. #brothersisterlove #siblinglove #freeplay #bonding #bestfriends #bffs #malibu #windy

Write On

Update 11-11-15: I have fallen in love with four men in my life, and each time the experience was different. One was exciting, one scary, one effortless, one unexpected. The common thread amongst them all is how they each profoundly changed the course of my life.
Falling in love changes things... for better, for worse, forever. How can it not? You love, you sometimes lose, but you always learn. From learning, you grow, and (hopefully) you thrive, both in the midst of love and in the wake of it.
I wrote this one year ago today. It's about new love and how it changed my life last year... for better, for worse, forever.
~

I fell in love this past spring. Hook. Line. Sinker.

You know when you don't want to do anything but talk to, be with, or exist in the presence of another? That is how I felt.

I started writing this blog in March after not writing consistently for many years. As I began the endeavor, life was as crazy as it could get. Both Spring Break and the Easter holiday weekend were approaching, and out of town guests were ascending on our house from a couple different directions. Definitely not the ideal time to start this time consuming venture. However, unexpectedly and most pleasantly, a spark was lit under me and I had inspiration that didn't relent and would not let me waver in my efforts. Thank you, inspiration... or curse you?

Once I started writing, I didn't want to stop. I discovered I had a whole bunch to say with not enough time to say it. I stayed up late many nights, just so I could write. I also wrote during the day, at times shirking some of my other responsibilities and tasks. You know, the ones that entail keeping your house in order and taking care of your kids the best way you know possible? THOSE. I took short cuts where I hadn't before, looking for the path of least resistance and quickest way to get things done so I had more time for me and more time to write. Gradually, and oh-so subtly, I found my new passion to be transformative in some really great ways, and some not so great ways. Falling in love with something or someone has the potential to do that to you, especially if you are unaware that's what's actually happening. The spell you are under pretty much leads you to not care about what you are risking, and you find that you just surrender to it, even at the peril of you and your life.

after a run - June 23, 2014

after a run - June 23, 2014

By the time summer hit, this love of mine bred a new attitude of autonomy that slowly began to consume me, eventually making it challenging to enjoy some other aspects of my life. Summertime with two kids out of school didn't leave me with a lot of free time to myself, which made living in my new state of being even harder. I no longer approached time with my kids with the same enthusiasm as I did before, having found something new that felt both effortless and challenging in the most exciting of ways. It seems that when you find this type of happiness and fulfillment, you tend to want it all the time. And I mean, ALL THE TIME. I fell deep into the feelings that this new aspect of my life elicited, as what I felt was extremely intoxicating.  

I began to shift my focus from being a mother and giving every bit of myself to my kids, to being a woman and recognizing I had gone too long without giving any bit of myself to me. Now I was determined to focus on what I was feeling, what I desired, what I needed, what I wanted to do. I went running more, practiced yoga more, and sat at my computer to write more - all of this resulting in the majority of my energy and attention being taken away from the other parts of my life that needed them to sustain and flourish: my relationships with my kids and my husband.

As an adolescent, I grew up in a home where my mother often, both unknowingly and at times blatantly, behaved in ways that made her children feel like we were keeping her from something better - like if we just weren't there she would be free... free to do as she wanted with her life and free to get back to where she thought her life was going before she had given it all up at the age of twenty-two to marry my father. Birthing four kids while finding herself in an unhappy marriage most definitely was not in her plan, and we were not spared her feelings of resentment and dissatisfaction when she found herself divorced and single at thirty-five years old.

By August, I was troubled to recognize this side of my mom in myself. As most of my efforts in the last few months had been directed toward my own wants and needs, I realized it was to the severe detriment of most everything else in my life. My joy of motherhood, or at the very least the due diligence with which I approached my role as a mother, had dissipated drastically, and the dedication and effort I had always previously put into my marriage had waned. Thoughts of wanting to live an alternate reality had dominated my mind. I unwittingly had stepped into my mom's shoes, in a way, understanding for the first time what she may have felt, and disturbed by the fact that I could relate. 

At that same point in time, I watched marriages end around me, learned of couples suffering in unhappy unions, and witnessed some of the most unhealthy of relationships play out in front of me in ways that showed clearly how people can get so lost in their own egos and expectations.

All these various situations and circumstances swirled around me in a perfect storm to eventually lead me to this place I've now arrived... where the sun on my March-October romance with writing, and what I can only call my mind/body/soul, has set. Although the love is still most definitely there, it has been tempered by an acceptance of reality - the reality of my choices, of my responsibilities, of my life. It's now November, and after many conflicting feelings, confusing frustrations, and A LOT of contemplation, I have brought back my attention, and intention, to the other vital parts of my life that beg for it, and most humbly deserve it.

I didn't expect to fall in love as I had. No one was more surprised than me that I began to feel and act as I did. It was both the best and the worst thing to happen to me. Through it, however, I did write... and create, and feel, and discover, and connect. That is a good thing, and not a thing I regret. I have written and experienced much more than I have published here; and I have so much more inside of me that has yet to be written. Although some of it will remain forever my own, the rest will be told in due time. I rekindled a passion that I wasn't aware existed, and I am so glad that I did.  

I am still getting my legs here though. Still wading in the water of getting comfortable with sharing my life as it exists behind the velvet curtain. Some of my strongest convictions, greatest challenges, and hardest moments have been laid bare in the posts preceding this one; and I can imagine exposing my perfectionist tendencies, misguided thoughts, and intimate vulnerabilities will inevitably continue. Still, I feel a shift coming on, as all this introspection has been f**king exhausting.

I personally shared my writing on this website with only five people during the first year of its existence. As it is slowly discovered by others (and when I finally make the decision to widely share it with more than my inner circle), I can't help but wonder if anyone is going to read it, be interested, or even care in the least about what I have to say.

It doesn't really matter. Regardless of its audience, or lack there of, this place is a warm blanket in which to cuddle up, a friend that will always be there, and a love that will remain.