Jewel is a pop sensation with more than 30 million albums sold worldwide. She has received four Grammy Award nominations, and her debut album, Pieces of You, released in 1995, has gone twelve times platinum. She has reached Billboard’s year-end singles chart in the Hot 100 in 1997-98 and has become a New York Times bestselling author with five published books. If you haven’t read Jewel’s “Never Broken,” please do so. It’s an incredibly inspiring life story of this amazing woman.
Jewel’s inspiration has done so much for children and troubled youth through books, educational programs, mentorship, charity concerts, performances, and philanthropy.
She has teamed up with Inspiring Children Foundation (www.inspiringchildren.net) and has been sharing her tools transforming children from surviving to thriving in a loving non-profit way alongside her Jewel Never Broken Program. Her collaboration with Ryan Wolfington, the founder of the “Inspiring Children’s Foundation” has been a wonderful team effort.
Jewel shares her insights, her experience and her wisdom with readers of High Rise Life Magazine in our exclusive interview. Her quest of self-discovery and solving her own problems has become a road map for success for others. There’s so much knowledge and wisdom in her words.
Q: What is your definition of happiness?
Happiness is when you are at peace with who you are and the choices you make, when your actions are in line with your values and ideals. Happiness is not something that comes from other people, places, or things. It comes from within, by making right choices. Every day I earn my happiness. I am willing to be the one who is accountable and take responsibility for my own happiness and the shape of my own life. For a long time, I lost myself, and when I had my son I really had to do a gut check, and I realized who I was wasn’t who I wanted my son to know. Now, I’m becoming someone I want my son to grow up knowing.
Q: You had a tremendous hardship as a child. What helped you to beat all odds and become successful?
At times, I was just on survive mode, when I was homeless and living out of my car. Most people think that period was because I was pursuing my music career, but that’s not quite true. My boss propositioned me, and when I turned him down, he fired me. So, I lived out of my car for a couple of months, but then my car got stolen. I got sick, I had panic attacks, I almost died of blood poisoning. That’s when I started stealing a lot. I worked hard. I was always working, always had a job, always found a way to get through — I had grit.
One day, I saw a reflection of myself in a mirror while I was shoplifting a dress, and knew that I had become a statistic. At that point, I decided to turn my life around. I created these mindfulness exercises, long before that was a commonly used word. I meditated, journaled, and started to live mindfully, by observing my hands. That is what my song “Hands” is about. I was writing about that very dark time in my life and the lessons I needed to learn. As a child I credit nature for keeping my love alive. No matter how abusive my home life was, I always had the trees, mountains, and grass to bring me back home, to my true self.
Q: What does being successful mean to you?
In the end, I always wanted my greatest work of art to be my life, not my music. Music was just one of the many ways I sought happiness and tried to share it with others.
Being successful means being a happy, whole human. Success is finding the courage to be true to myself, and holding on to a sense of humor along the way while refining my craft. Working the land in Alaska, then fighting to survive as a teenager on my own, gave me so many skills I would later use to be a successful entrepreneur, musician, and human.
Q: How did you manage to change your insecurity as a child?
My mom left when I was 8, my dad was an abusive alcoholic, and I was an insecure child. The truth is that no one can keep you captive. No one can keep you unhappy. No one can keep you abused. Our lives rise to the level we accept. I do believe we can rise from the screaming blood of our losses, of extreme pain, physically debilitating emotion, psychological neglect, apathy, and not merely survive, but thrive. We do not need to let our histories, or our losses define us except in the way we choose. We can use them as fuel to create real depth, beauty, connectedness, and compassion in our lives. Our stories can make us exceptional people, not damaged ones. If we choose to be truthful with ourselves. And if we choose to digest and release the pain rather than try to avoid it. This is how pain accumulates and creates more pain, leading to neurosis, pathology, and brittleness of spirit.
Q: What do you think is the most important character trait a woman should have?
Growing up on a homestead, I was not brought up looking at a person and identifying that person as a man or a woman. We are all just people. As a person, I think the most important character trait to have is to be curious, being curious and kind and observant of you. Take time to dig deeply into your own nature — even the parts that make you uncomfortable. Many women are bestowed with a sensitive and intuitive nature that is so special and we add our own special touch. Men too have their own special qualities that I admire.
Q: Do you feel that you fulfilled yourself as a woman?
Yes. I’m so lucky to have been raised by pioneer women in Alaska that did not identify as a particular sex or see any limitations. We hunted, gardened, built homes and cut wood. At the same time, I love being feminine and expressing all aspects of myself. I’ve been lucky enough through my career, as a daughter, mother, entrepreneur, and friend, to express myself as a woman, as a human, in so many unique ways. I’m an artist, a painter, a poet, a writer, a musician, a lover of wisdom and education. Being a mother and a happy human is my most cherished occupation and calling. I couldn’t be happier with all the ways in which this life has allowed me to express myself.
Q: Do you feel that you’ve achieved all your goals?
My primary goal is to master my own happiness, and to pass this along to my son, and to others. I’m very inspired to create the best environment possible for him to grow and develop. I can say with confidence that I am happy, which is saying a lot considering my background. But I am nowhere near finished. There is much for me to do in this life, improving myself and the world around me.
Q: What are some things you would like to do in the next few years?
My whole goal is to keep my spirit intact. If that doesn’t happen, none of this is worth it. I want to pivot my career, which I have already started doing.
I have some exciting entrepreneurial goals, building a collaboration with Tony Hsieh and Zappos, to help companies with the next frontier of corporate culture, helping them to invest more deeply in their human capital by helping their executives to be whole humans. To do this I am using the same emotional intelligence and mindfulness tools that helped me go from surviving to thriving. I have some interesting ideas for my music career, and for the music business in general.
My Never Broken Foundation has partnered with the Inspiring Children Foundation, and we hope to revolutionize youth development, to help children get the type of education I wish I had when I was young. The website (jewelneverbroken.com) is a nonprofit and free to the world. It’s an emotional fitness destination, where people can access simple mindfulness tools to create change in their lives.
I’ve paired with school districts to hopefully share our mindfulness curriculum with hundreds of thousands of students. I have always loved the pursuit of wisdom and sharing it with others. My first soundtrack for this passion was my music, then my poetry and writing. It’s exciting to now express this in new and creative ways.
Q: What do you think is your life purpose?
My life’s passion is the pursuit of wisdom and sharing it with others. I discovered this at a young age, growing up in nature, on our homestead in Alaska. My father says that while our family tradition has included a lot of pain and trauma, it also provided the remedy. Nature, if you let it, is a remarkable cure and inspiration for many things.
Q: What would be your message to young women today?
You are capable, strong and no matter what has or ever will happen to you, you are never broken. Stay true to yourself, speak up and do not be afraid to trust in your inner compass. It will lead you in the right direction. Also, meditation and mindfulness are a powerful hack that will help you find everything you are looking for.
Q: Who was your inspiration growing up?
My aunt Mossie was a big inspiration. My grandmother as well. They were both strong Alaskan woman, that always made it through the winter to find spring and summer. I also loved Greek mythology, great artists like Joni Mitchell and Ella Fitzgerald, and writers like Tolstoy.
Q: Who was your inspiration in music?
Bob Dylan and Neil Young really took me under their wings, which is very humbling. When my first record was flopping, and the record label wanted me back in the studio Neil told me to stay true to myself and then Bob took me on the road and mentored me.
Q: Do you have an idol?
Q: If you didn’t have to work, what would you do?
I would do exactly what I am doing. Seek wisdom, and create ways to share it.
Q: What is your favorite pastime or hobby?
Snuggling with my son and helping him grow into a happy whole human, Journaling, yoga, meditation, painting, and riding a motorcycle.
Q: What are some of your daily rituals?
I am a geek when it comes to self-care and health. I take a ridiculous number of vitamins every day, but most importantly, like I brush my teeth, I brush my soul. I meditate daily or take brain breaks as I like to call it, throughout my day. I love spending time with my son, journaling and talking to some of the wisest friends a woman could have.
Q: How long have you been working with Inspiring Children Foundation?
I’ve known Ryan Wolfington and have been collaborating with him for almost three years now. The work we do together in the Foundation we both have been doing our whole lives. Personal and human development is our passion and our Jewel Never Broken program is a culmination that came from that. The Foundation has been doing this work for fifteen years and my involvement started soon after meeting Ryan.
Q: Is there a specific reason you chose to be a part of Inspiring Children Foundation?
I have been all over the world and I have never seen a program more effective, which is why I chose them. It is revolutionary. Specifically, I love that each child can earn their way, to learn by doing and to become emotionally intelligent. I’ve spent a lot of time with these children and I have seen how aware, kind, and strong they are. It is remarkable.
I moved to Vegas with my son for two months over summer mostly because I wanted him to be around the kids in the Foundation. As a result, I now have land and will have a house at Lake Las Vegas soon, so my son and I can be more involved.
Q: Are you happy with the results Inspiring Children Foundation has achieved so far?
We have a 100% success rate of getting kids scholarships to colleges like Yale, Stanford, Harvard, Air Force, Princeton, and Georgetown. More importantly, we are arming children with a psychology for life, so they can be happy and create generational change. The Fuller Graduate School of Psychology is studying the program because it is so successful, and it is being duplicated in twenty-two cities.
Q: Do you have an update on your partnership with Zappos?
Tony Hsieh is a visionary. His self-management system is revolutionary, and I am extremely honored to collaborate with him on what we consider to be the next frontier of corporate culture. We ae hoping to have the project up and running in 2018.
Q: You are a deeply intuitive person. Were you always like that or did that come later in life?
I’ve been doing mindfulness practices since I was fourteen years old. I have gone in and out, but following my intuition is always something I have worked to cultivate within myself. That’s why I wrote a song about it in the 90’s.
Q: How does it feel to be such a positive influence for young women?
I have always been authentic and real with my fans. I never wanted to be put on this pedestal that most celebrities are put on. They know I’m not perfect. We use each other to bring each other up when we have issues. One of my fan’s husband died and she really wasn’t handling it well. Their whole lives revolved around one another. My fans found out about it and without my prompting at all set up a schedule and each week a different person flew to stay with her, cook her meals and be with her. It was beautiful.
Article by Yelena Brezhneva
Author, Mother of Three, Philanthropist, Las Vegas Personality and High-Rise Luxury Home Specialist with Sotheby’s International Realty