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Mindful : October 2017
in music. I want to give people much more prac- tical methods, real tools to help them, because anxiety is at an all-time high, depression is at an all-time high. People need tools to help them- selves instead of looking outside for solutions or distractions.” This, she says, is her real art—and, she hopes, her best work of all. In addition to the Whole Human initiative, last year Jewel launched the nonprofit program and web platform Jewel Never Broken in part- nership with the Inspiring Children Foundation, a Las Vegas-based “psychology for life” program for youth, where she also serves as a mentor. (See “An Inspired Life,” page 66.) The website and community forum is run and managed by alumni of the foundation, and shares the axioms and exercises Jewel developed toward the goal of emotional fitness. It’s a project close to her heart. “ I’m advocating for wisdom and helping people understand they can be the architects of a life they choose. They don’t have to be a passenger in a life they inherit,” she says. Pass It On Jewel’s latest album, Picking Up the Pieces, released in 2015, was heralded by some as a welcome return to the sound and writing of her earlier work. It’s also a powerful accompa- niment to the revelations made in her memoir about the dysfunction and abuse in her family, and the hardships she’s endured on her own path to being a “whole human.” In “My Father’s Daughter,” featuring Dolly Parton, she pays homage to the female pioneers of her family and to her dad. It marks a healing in their relationship, something she credits with the brave work he has done on himself. In another song, “Mercy,” she cries, When you’re locked away, Fighting shadows, constant battles Trying to feel safe When your own armor starts killing you, ’Cause it’s causing you to sink beneath its weight Call for mercy, won’t you please Call for mercy, get on your knees You’re being broken, again and again You’ll keep being broken, until you remain Open A few days later, I’m at a high tea put on by the kids in the foundation for its supporters, where Jewel is the featured guest. One of the girls, a 15-year-old who came into the program after try- ing to commit suicide, stands up and talks about this song. “I feel like I’m finally understanding that, like, life bringing you to your knees isn’t a bad thing, that those moments where you are overdrawn really are times of growth, and that I’m lucky to have them,” she says. Jewel isn’t the only one wiping away a tear at this. It’s clear that these kids are ripe for the practices she had to teach herself out of neces- sity. And that’s just what she hoped for when she embarked upon this path. At one point, she tells me, she had a real- ization. “ What if I’m not broken? What if I shouldn’t approach this from the concept that I’m broken and I need to be fixed? That’s a hor- rible proposition to start from, because you’re saying The answer is outside myself, healing is outside myself. So I decided to tackle it from the idea that, What if I exist perfectly at all times? And it’s really just a matter of doing an archeolog- ical dig back to my real self ?” That’s where the work of creating happiness begins, she says: digging through the mud and gunk that life heaps on, unwinding habits you developed out of necessity that no longer serve you, and to examine the thoughts that run your mind, to see if they’re reflecting your truth. And, importantly, paying attention to even those small moments that bring you joy. Like spending quiet time with your son. Or riding horses. Or exploring new and innovative ways to share the hard-earned wisdom you’ve gained with the hope of making someone else’s journey a bit easier. And knowing that when life shifts or knocks you flat, you can go inside, listen to what your mind is telling you, and choose a better thought. ● Jewel shares her mindfulness practices with us at mindful.org/jewel At one point, Jewel tells me, she had a realization. “What if I’m not broken? What if I shouldn’t approach this from the concept that I’m broken and I need to be fixed? That’s a horrible proposi- tion to start from.” Kelle Walsh is a contributing editor to Mindful, based in Colorado. 68 mindful October 2017 profile