One of mankind’s eternal gripes is that the wisdom we acquire throughout life is not fully realized within us until our golden years. And, most of us never have a chance to fully take advantage of the lessons we learn throughout our lifetimes.
Enter Jewel, the 42-year-old songstress whose 1995 debut album, Pieces of You, introduced us to a very young woman with a very old soul, full of life experiences that most of us––at any age––have only dreamed of. From her simple upbringing in Alaska to traveling the west coast performing in coffeehouses with little money to her name, Jewel’s story is one of success, failure, passion, faith, and an endless cavalcade of people who influenced her personally or artistically.
In the over 20 years since her debut multi-platinum album changed her life forever, Jewel has come to realize that success and money doesn’t necessarily end life’s challenges: if anything, it usually paves the way for new ones. While entertainers often feel the need to focus on their aesthetic traits, it’s the process of being emotionally prepared for life’s hills and valleys that she prioritizes above all else.
“I think emotional fitness is something we’re not incredibly educated on,” Jewel says. “It isn’t taught in schools. We don’t learn what it is to be human, and how to be satisfied, and how to make our brains work for us, and all the things that really are so essential to being alive. Math and sciences and those things are incredibly important, but it isn’t the whole picture.”
Clearly passionate about the topic at hand, she says, “If I were to ask, ‘What is Jewel’s happy ending,’ it’s that I’ve come to peace with the process. To me, that’s what happiness is. It’s not some state of bliss that you achieve, never to leave again. It’s how do you handle the truth in life every day without it knocking you off your center perpetually? How do you transmute pain into being exceptional instead of into being damaged, and being bitter, and being broken?”
Jewel certainly understands that physical wellbeing is a crucial element to staying beautiful, young and––most importantly of all––healthy. It’s that last reason that gave her the motivation to change her diet and lifestyle early in her career.
“There’s no shortcut,” she says. “I taught myself about nutrition, herbology, and fitness, and I gave myself a real, actual, meaningful education so that I could have meaningful, long-term health results. It hasn’t been motivated by, ‘Oh my god. I’m in the public eye. I have to look a certain way.’ It’s been motivated by, I want to live a long, healthy, happy life, and what do I need to learn to make sure I can provide that for myself? I don’t have any ideal of perfection that has to be maintained all the time. I’m the normal girl, and I’ll gain or lose five pounds in a week, just like anybody will.”
Jewel has found it relatively easy to embrace her exercise routine, linking it back to her commitment to emotional wellness.
“We all know that getting a good workout creates endorphins and gives us an overall sense of wellbeing because it engages your biochemistry,” she explains. “If you want to have a healthier body, one of the best things you can do is invest in your emotional and mental health. It’s going to have an incredible impact on your overall sense of wellbeing, and there’s a lot of science out there to show the connections of stress and illness.”
“At the same time, stress affects your biochemistry. Learning to handle stress affects your physical health. Talk to any medical doctor, and they’ll tell you stress is one of the underlying causes of a lot of diseases. I know this firsthand, because I had unmitigated and prolonged stress a lot of my life, and it caused a lot of health issues.”
Still young at heart, mind, body, and soul, Jewel’s mission has always been to share her thoughts and feelings with her fans through her lyrics, which has now led her to divulge in even greater detail. Her long-awaited memoir, Never Broken, was a huge hit upon its release in 2015, spawning an idea for something even grander––jewelneverbroken.com.
“My effort with the website is to give people a place to get an emotional education,” she explains. “The reason the subtitle for my website is ‘Make happiness a habit’ is because there really is an aspect of learning how to train your brain, and make it work for you, instead of letting it hijack you constantly. That is a part of us, and it’s a learnable skill.”
Jewel strongly believe that expanding one’s horizons is just as important as maintaining their current ones. By dabbling in acting, poetry and other creative outlets, she’s always made a point to grow, an effort that paid dividends in September when her hilarious segment on Comedy Central’s Roast of Rob Lowe became the unexpected talk of the show.
“I think it’s really important to put yourself in uncomfortable situations as much as possible,” she says. “ You never get to expand and grow if you don’t push yourself beyond your comfort level. My life has been about that. You build actual, real self-esteem from the inside out when you give yourself an opportunity to rise to a challenge. It’s scary, and it’s frightening, but when you prove things to yourself, your self-esteem and your confidence is built in a good, healthy way, versus from an external source. I really like challenges. It doesn’t always mean I win every time. It really isn’t honestly about that. It’s how hard did I try? Did I put myself out there? Did I take the risk?”