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Most of you have probably heard of Marsha Mason, the petite brunette best known as “The Goodbye Girl”. In the ‘70’s Mason was nominated for four Best Actress Oscars, each for outstanding performances in films written by her famed playwright husband, Neil Simon. Interestingly, one of those films, 1979’s “Chapter Two” was written for her by Simon, and is an autobiographical account of their courtship. At that time, Simon and Mason were one of Hollywood’s Golden Couples, like Jolie and Pitt today.

In 1981, after she and Simon divorced, Mason began seeking life experiences outside of Hollywood. At various times, she worked as an actor, of course (remember her as John Mahoney’s love interest on “Frasier”?) but also director, waitress, go-go dancer, clerk, writer (her memoir “Journey” was published by Simon & Schuster in 2000) and race car driver. “I got interested in car racing because I’d always enjoyed car racing,” she told me. ”So when I became friends with Paul Newman and stuff, I wound up sort of following their team around and then he told me about these racing schools, and I went to the schools. And one thing lead to another and I wound up having a racing team for about 7 years. I really enjoyed it, and I guess I just didn’t have enough to do.”

That changed quickly when, “I decided that I was going to leave Los Angeles. I just kind of thought—the image I had or the metaphor was throwing up pieces of glass of my life in the air and seeing how the pattern would come down differently, like a kaleidoscope. I wound up in New Mexico and I became a farmer, and I have a certified organic herb farm there, called “Resting in the River”. My products are totally natural and we have a bath and body line as well as a medicinal herb line. I don’t know, I guess I just kind of follow whatever interests me.”

“I’ve always been a gardener and I’ve always taken alternative medicine. So I remember talking to my Oriental or Asian doctor—whatever is politically the correct word now—in Los Angeles and I was getting a session - an acupuncture session with Dr. Mao and he said, ‘You know, if you ever decide to grow something, you really ought to think about medicinal herbs’. I said ‘really’? And he said ‘yeah’”.

“Then I heard about a woman who was growing chamomile in Arizona and in the interim I contacted a fellow who was a specialist in Permaculture. I asked him to help me map out the farm as far as the fields and what to do to put organic matter back into the soil and everything. And so one thing kind of led to another, and living here in New Mexico I learned something really interesting.”

“We could sort of put out a question to the universe here and within 48 hours someone either answers your question directly or somebody mentions somebody who can answer your question or somehow your questions get answered in relatively rapid ways. It’s kind of fascinating actually. I think part of it is because there isn’t a lot of – there isn’t anything to sort of deflect the thought patterns of the universe or something. You know, it’s quiet and there isn’t a lot of pollution here and there isn’t a lot of chatter so somehow it just seems - people show up. And that’s literally what happened each time I took the next step—somebody showed up, you know, to either educate me or point me in the right direction or tell me where to go. It kind of just kept unfolding and I just went with it.”

“The first trial beds that we did, we planted Echinacea. We did a composted plot - organic composted plot, a biodynamic plot, and then when we dug the plants up we measured the size of the roots, the vibrancy and the olfactory senses—the medicinal stuff and it was just clearly obvious that the biodynamic plot did very well. I was able to acquire Chinese herbs-medicinal-for-seed and I began to grow them.”

“That’s how we started and we did Echinacea, eStragla, Ashawanda, Chinese Licorice, and some things have grown and some thing’s wouldn’t. All those things that I just mentioned grew, as did Chamomile, Colingula, and California Poppy and it just manifested itself, you know. We kept getting and going. And I just decided - sort of the same principle I used when I was racing cars - I said, if I get a lot of resistance or it becomes such an arduous task that it’s not fun anymore then I won’t do it. And yet everything kept unfolding and it seemed like there was no resistance whatsoever. We just kept trucking along and then I did one of those typical Marsha things, which is I said ‘OK, I’ll grow it and they’ll come’”.

“It’s fun when I visit in Hollywood now, because mostly people assumed if I was in Los Angeles, they assumed I lived in New York and I’d say, ‘No, I live in New Mexico.’ And they’d say ‘NEW MEXICO?’ And I’d say, ‘I have a medicinal herb farm there.’ And they go, ‘Oh, you’re so lucky.’ Most everybody thought that sounded pretty spectacular.”

“And it is! When you look out you have the river sort of bordering the –you don’t see the river cause the trees are in front of it—but then you have the pond, so all of sudden you just know the feeling of the whole farm resting in the water table. One of the ponds is just fed by the water table and it has water in it year round and there’s another pond down in the bousquade which is closer to the river for the wildlife that I put in.”

Perhaps Mason forgot to mention one of her other skills-entrepreneur. “Well, I am the company,” she told me. Albert Granitus and I, basically are the company. I mean, I’m a hands-on person. I obviously hire people—like marketing people and designers for the labeling and stuff like that, but I’m the one that picks the colors and okays everything and makes all the decisions and spends the money.”

She adds, “I think what’s really important is that people need to educate themselves and pay more attention to their bodies, read the labels, and understand what organic is vs. natural. And take charge of their own health. Don’t rely so easily on a quick fix. Which is to a great extent what western medicine is doing. It’s like, ‘Well take a pill and get over it.’ So there is something to be said for a more ancient and traditional therapy which is to work through the illness or the cold or whatever, using natural products and organic products that are out there.”

"If you’re going to ingest something, pay close attention to what you’re going to ingest. And you know, work with your body; you can tell the difference, you know if your body likes something or it doesn’t. Be open. Be open. Just because something tastes medicinal doesn’t mean it isn’t good for you."

You are what you eat. Thank you.

CLICK HERE for a chance to win a MARSHA MASON "RESTING IN THE RIVER" Gift Pak, only available here.

To find out more about Marsha Mason and Resting in the River, go to / Issue 69 - September 2018
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