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Mindful : October 2017
yodels, no less) from Alaska, discovered at age 19 playing in a San Diego coffeehouse while living out of her car. But as the book title hints, there’s much more to this story. And this unlikely clickbait town is the sur- prising base for an ambitious slate of programs and projects with Jewel’s mindful philosophy at their core. I’m eager to learn more. Whole Humans First I need to find the Bellagio’s conference center, where Jewel is speaking and performing at SALT, a convention for the financial industry. I’m hustling; my search for cheap parking has made me run late. I cross what feels like the dis- tance of four football fields before I finally arrive at the panel stage where Jewel is presenting with Zappos’ CEO, a mohawked Tony Hsieh. I join a standing-room-only crowd of dressed-to-impress finance men and just a handful of other women. Hsieh and Jewel are discussing their collaboration: the Jewel Whole Human Project powered by Zappos, being developed in the online shoe retailer’s Las Vegas headquarters- cum-incubator. The idea is to create a benefits package of sorts, to help support employees to experience greater harmony in their lives, such as developing healthier work–life balance, or enjoying better physical or fiscal health. “Happiness is a side effect of having tone in every area of your life,” she says. The prog ram will comprise “toolkits” of best practices and strategies, online and in real time, in key areas where employees identify needing the most support. Once it’s up and running, they intend to sell the prog ram to other organizations. It’s an ambitious proposal, and just one of many Jewel is involved with. There’s a cur- riculum to introduce mindfulness into public school language arts programs, and a plan for a cartoon, to teach mindfulness to preschoolers. I learn that Cirque du Soleil is making a show about her life. On stage talking about the importance of “investing in human capital” with Hsieh, Jewel exudes depth. She’s poised, serious, and well-spoken. Wearing a navy blazer paired with jeans, she looks less like a music star and more like a hip but no-nonsense CEO. The crowd seems receptive, which I find interesting, con- sidering this talk comes alongside presentations like “An Investor’s Guide to Shifting Global Paradigms” and “Your Morning Forecast with Dr. Ben S. Bernanke.” → The Jewel Whole Human Project, being developed in Zappos’ Las Vegas head- quarters, is designed to help employees experience greater harmony and tone throughout their lives. S outh Las Vegas Boulevard in mid-May is blindingly bright and has far more traffic than I’d expect on a weekday afternoon. As I maneuver my red Yaris among the taxis, Ubers, and much fancier rentals than my own, I’m mystified why there are so many people out on the Strip midday on a Thursday. It’s so hot, for one thing. And it hurts my eyes. The relentless sunshine bounces off everything— buildings, windshields, concrete. But worse than the glare is the sheer amount of stimulus: the faux Eiffel Tower and fountains and a gazillion stores and huge billboards of famous faces and flashing signs and club music pouring out onto the sidewalks and hawkers handing out coupons and women teetering by in heels not made for walking with guys carrying cocktails-to-go and groups of tourists posing for photos. I’m having a hard time keeping my eyes on the road and real- ize too late that I’m in the wrong lane. I floor it to move over, and zoom through the light before it changes, throwing a feeble, “ I’m sorry! I don’t know where I’m going!” wave to anyone I may have pissed off. I can feel my nerves crackle and my palms begin to sweat. Ironically it’s mindfulness that brings me here. I’ve come to meet Jewel, the singer-song writer whose 2016 memoir Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story shared with the world the many mindful practices she developed as a teenager to help deal with the anxiety, fear, and insecurity she struggled with since childhood. These prac- tices remain an essential part of her life today. Now she wants to teach others that they, too, can change their experience of life, no matter where they start from, and find their own happiness. Although it’s been more than 20 years and 11 albums since her debut record, Pieces of Me, to many Jewel is still best known as the soulful singer-song writer with an impressive range (she 62 mindful October 2017 profile