I met Moon Zappa many moons ago – at a house party in the Hollywood Hills when I was a kid. Our beloved late friend JJ was chic and cool and precocious (she was obsessed with The Smiths, Poison perfume and blackberry lipstick as a preteen) – and she always brought me to all sorts of cool places filled with eccentric and creative artists and musicians. And that’s how I met Moon.
Moon was adorned in an ivory lace vintage dress, a thick brown leather belt, combat boots and an air of comfortable playfulness. She embodied all that was beauty and confidence, hilarity and high spirits – and modesty.
Despite being the cultural icon of the MTV GENERATION and a staple in the in-crowd who was frequently featured in all the teen mags, she somehow always seemed to be the low key outsider looking in, rather than the provincial self-obsessed insider looking within. She could grasp and see what was ironic and absurd and noteworthy among our peers and in our world – and then would release it creatively on a variety of platforms. Early in her years through her music and MTV commentary — and later in her years through the written word.
When I say she was the voice of the 80s, she was. Literally. Moon spoke to us and mocked the superficiality of America’s culture, specifically LA, and specifically “The Valley” – through our AM/FM speakers. She and her dad, Frank Zappa were heralded for their iconic hit, “Valley Girl” — and every girl emulated and revered her, not really getting that she was our pop culture’s sociologist creating satirical layered cultural commentary.
A few years later, MTV premiered “Let’s Talk About It” – another great song from the 80s with her brother Dweezil. They defined cool; they defined the 80s. But none of this became how she defined herself.
One year I vacationed in Hawaii with Moon and her family — and I remember talking to her on the beach with two of my girlfriends about family and “real friendships” and “real relationships.” Stuff she longed for and lived for and was grateful for. She was precociously soul searching even as a teen. Despite all that she grew up with, she yearned for things that were genuine and compassionate. Not designer bags or cars or a myriad of other possessions – or being on any of LA’s club’s “list.” She sought things I took for granted.
Love and friendship with family and friends were on her metaphorical vision board — not material excess that others who grew up with what she had would have prioritized.
Then in the year 2000, Moon published one of the greatest semi-autobiographical American novels of all time, “America the Beautiful.” I promise you she is David Sedaris before there was David Sedaris. I’ve never navigated through a book so quickly and laughed so hard. I’ve been pushing and begging her to do #AmericaTheBeautiful, Part Deux for too long now.
And then now. Today. She’s cool, chic and down to earth like her yesteryears – but now even more so. She’s a yogi, writer, stand up comedian and most importantly a devoted mother to daughter, Mathilda Plum Doucette (father is Paul Doucette from Matchbox Twenty) — her greatest and proudest feat.
Here is where life is really starting for her. Parenting is where Moon now implements all that she’s learned through life – what her brain and psyche have gained through yoga, writing, comedy, many adversities and a plethora of successes. She’s such a great vision of gratitude and motherhood and forward movement, that I asked her to speak some words to us. She’s a pure soul headed toward further greatness – and needless to say, her child, too, is destined to go nowhere but there.
And although Moon’s favorite job is undoubtedly being the devoted mother to Mathilda Plum, she’s still putting the pedal to the metal and churning out iconic creative masterpieces.
She is currently writing for film and television and is, thank goodness for us, working on her second book. This one is a memoir about being an invisible household name, about the 80’s, and growing up as the feminist daughter of a free-love rock ‘n’ roll icon.
I know. I can’t wait either. Now let’s get into it.
Moon! Thank you so much again for doing this. Please give us some words on how you define success and how you teach success to your daughter, Mathilda?
I define success in all humans in terms of connection, attunement, empathy, loyalty, patience, clear, kind communication, collaboration, contribution, treading lightly on the earth, leaving things the same or better than how you found them, wisdom, willingness, curiosity, enthusiasm, humor and loving yourself no matter what. I hope I teach my daughter these attributes by giving these gifts to her as well giving these gifts to myself (and others in doses proportionate to who they are in our lives). Two big clues are my sense of humor and patience – when these qualities recede I KNOW I am in trouble…and it’s time for a reset.
Early on I looked to the work of Alfie Kohn, Daniel Siegel, Marshall Rosenberg and Ruth Beaglehole for their insights on empathy-based parenting, brain development and appropriate expectations, on non-violent communication and identifying our wounds and histories so that we train ourselves to stay in the present instead of projecting our pasts onto our kids.
I was taught through these great hearts and minds (and I believe this to be true firsthand) that children become what they experience. In other words, we have to role model the values we want to instill in our children. If we want honest, reliable and respectful happy kids, we have to be honest, reliable, respectful and happy ourselves.
I remember making the obvious connection that we don’t give our friends time-outs — nor do we spank them if we are frustrated with them. We don’t yank their sweaters on and off. Then why on earth would anyone do these things to someone so much tinier? It’s entirely illogical to scare and injure and demand things from small, unformed bodies and minds that need the very data from us about how to be, what to know. That doesn’t mean beating yourself up, that means we are all in this together. And, it means the grown-ups have to do the yummy adulting: by seeing and repairing our leaky yachts first and THEN we help grow the fleetlettes up.
How do you plan on keeping your daughter grounded, especially while raising her in LA? And how do you teach self-love?
I don’t believe in the “Do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do,” “my house,” “my rules” model that my parents and their parents perpetuated AT ALL. While I accept intellectually that they did the best they could with what they had, I feel like I grew up behind the eight ball in many areas — and today I am efforting like a motherfucker to make radical, front line, it-ends-with-me changes. Unlike my rigid 50’s grandparents and unlike my free love 60’s boundary-less parents, and unlike many of my peers who have adopted a yogic-mindful-only-smiles bias, I am a big fan of holistic, authentic, all-feelings-are-welcome-to-the-party way of living.
When I feel like I can’t have all my feelings, I feel agitated, angry, anxious. If I feel like I am can be my whole self, warts and all, I can view my less glamorous feelings like a bit of passing weather. I make mistakes all the time. I am still learning to let myself make them. What’s different in my home is I am willing to hear how I caused someone else pain and say sorry. What’s different in my home is I own the part that was mine and I repair ruptures. I keep the lines of communication open. There is transparency and containment, both. AND I keep my eye on the connection ball. What is the point of having relationships if you speak your mind and live your life but can’t eat a meal together or you turn into lava when you are anywhere near one another? The point of love is the love part.
I have an amazing yoga teacher who has a twenty-four hour rule. If she feels her heart is shutting down or feels like something is off in a relationship she reaches out within 24 hours and does a check in and/or asks for help to stay connected. She also pointed out that the mechanism for making any change is the same, but where we have old injuries or samskaras, we believe the dirty, distorted mirror. If we are at the airport and our flight gets cancelled we don’t say, “Well, I guess I live here now.” Yet, we can go through breakups or lose a job and mistakenly think, “Well, I’ll never have love or money again” or “This proves no one wants me.”
Like being stranded anywhere, we assess our options and take a step toward improving our current predicament, no matter how seemingly hopeless or crazy. We have our own backs one thousand per cent so our kids learn to have theirs, too. As they say, yell “Plot twist!” and move on.
And how do you prepare Mathilda for life, for adulthood?
I am a big fan of wanting what you have and knowing what you have is enough. Gratitude is medicine. Contrary action is medicine. Being of service is medicine. Being in Nature is medicine. Seeing and/or generating beauty in yourself is medicine. Singing, dancing, cooking, being with your favorite people, going to your favorite places, taking a holiday, sleeping in, petting an animal. Making someone laugh, a baby or an elderly person laugh, your kid, yourself.
I am not saying it’s easy — but setting ourselves up for success, making sure our kids half way get the hang of it in our lifetime so if God forbid we have to leave the party early, we can know in the truest and deepest parts of ourselves…they got this.
Moon, thank you.
Readers, am I right? She’s dead on accurate and leads a path we should all contemplate following.
+++ FEATURED PHOTO BY CATHRYN FARNSWORTH
+++ AND STAY TUNED READERS! Coming up on the blog are interviews with ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, wellness and yoga junkie and lifestyle guru, THE BALANCED BLONDE (JORDAN YOUNGER) AND THE STUNNING ASHLEY BORDEN, CELEBRITY TRAINER TO RYAN GOSLING, REESE WITHERSPOON AND CHRISTINA AGUILERA!