A day at a time

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Jane Fonda examines 60 years of her life in her book, “My Life So Far.” She will sign copies of her book at Diesel, A Bookstore on Sunday, 1 p.m.

By Sara Rosner / Special to The Malibu Times

Though it may seem like there isn’t much that Jane Fonda hasn’t done in her lifetime, the actress-turned-activist-turned-exercise guru has recently added the occupation of author to her repertoire and will be signing copies of her book, “My Life So Far,” at Diesel, A Bookstore in Malibu on Dec. 11 at 1 p.m.

In the book, the 68-year-old Fonda examines the first 60 years of her life and describes in detail her upbringing, her relationship with men and food, her acting career and her political activism.

Upon turning 59 in 1996, Fonda said that she spent a year analyzing her life in preparation for what she said is her “third act.”

“I realized that it was going to be my last act and I was like ‘Oh my God, this is it,'” Fonda said in a recent phone interview.

Fonda said the book is a reflection of that process and some of the epiphanies she discovered along that time. Though it took her five years to complete, Fonda said writing the book was easy because she knew what she wanted to say. The editing process was far more difficult, with the original manuscript being 500 pages longer than the published version.

“That was the hardest part, to know what to leave out,” Fonda said.

While Fonda has often been the subject of controversy for her choices and beliefs, she said that her only regrets are her relationship with her daughter and some of her actions during the Vietnam War.

She said that by admitting to her often-troubled relationship with her 37-year-old daughter, Vanessa Vadim, she hopes to establish a better rapport with her first of two children and to continue to make family a priority in this new stage of her life.

“I knew that I would have to admit it because it would be part of the healing process between me and my daughter,” Fonda said.

Fonda had Vadim while married to her first husband, the late writer and director Roger Vadim. The marriage dissolved early in January of 1973. Fonda married political activist and filmmaker Tom Hayden later that month, with whom Fonda had her second child, Troy Garity, later that year.

The couple divorced in 1990 and Fonda married media mogul Ted Turner in 1991. Turner, an atheist, and Fonda divorced in 2001 when Fonda claimed to become a devout Christian. Despite their differences, Fonda said she still maintains friendly relationships with her two surviving ex-husbands.

Though working to cultivate and repair her family relationships seems feasible to Fonda, she said the consequences of some of her actions against the Vietnam War are not as easy to mend. Fonda said she particularly regrets the infamous photograph of her sitting on top of a Viet Cong anti-aircraft gun in a visit to Vietnam in 1972, and the effects the image had on U.S. servicemen.

“I do regret that I allowed myself to get into a situation where I was photographed on an anti-aircraft gun,” Fonda writes in her book. “I have explained how that happened and how it sent a message that was the opposite of what I was feeling and doing.”

Fonda also said that she sees some parallels between the Vietnam War and the current war in Iraq. “There are similarities; quagmire comes to mind,” Fonda said. “It’s a tragedy. It’s a disaster that we went in at all.”

Despite Fonda’s dissidence, when asked if she was planning on becoming more publicly active regarding the war in Iraq, Fonda said she felt her contribution is unnecessary and could even be detrimental to the cause.

“I don’t really need to be [active] right now, because the people that need to be active are doing it,” Fonda said. “I would just be a distraction.”

Ultimately, Fonda said that reflecting on her life and acknowledging mistakes has taught her a great deal about not having to be perfect, especially as a woman.

“What I’ve learned in 60 years is that good enough is good enough,” Fonda said. “We must learn to live an intentional life…It took me a long time, but, so what?”

Fonda plans to travel to Finland, Sweden and Australia to promote her book, which has already sold more than 450,000 copies in the United States since its release in April, and is also being translated into Chinese.

Although Fonda has enjoyed an active career in entertainment, acting in more than 40 films and winning two Academy Awards, one for her performance in “Klute” in 1973 and another for “Coming Home” in 1978, she said there are no movie roles on the horizon.

However, she might be busy otherwise. Fonda said she enjoyed writing this book so much that there may be another-but she’s also not planning too far ahead.

“I can feel another book in me,” she said. “I just take it a day at a time.”