I miss the boys who died, knowing their inner sadness belongs to boys who both knew and yet never never knew how they were loved. This is the work of a lifetime – be it a scant few years or a long stream of decades – finding that we are liked, wanted and needed. A part of us is always skeptical. We try so hard to please, come up against our own fragility – grey dawns of the heart – and despair at our failings. The moments of laughter, the warm press of a friendly hand, the sweet, but slipping smiles of friendships: these are all breezes that catch our sails and tug us farther along the sea of our journey. These are tender moments, warm with the texture of knitted things, comforting like the scents of favorite soups and newly found desserts. This is joy to pull us through bleakest despair and remind us that at the end of our worked days, we will see smiles we know again, share confidences and food and a pause while every nose recalls together that this is the smell of spring coming again. This bittersweet lesson – learned when dear people pass from this world – is found in the tears that come from knowing you can remember the timber of their voice but never hear it again and that you only got to say so many thank yous to ears like your own that could hear them. Never hold back your applause, never be shy with praise and love. The bitterest regrets are plaudits that fell away without being spoken and all the times that love was shamed into a muddier, cooler kind of warmth.
Some of you have probably heard of me and some of you are likely fans. You’ve seen me sitting down with the girls from The View or the gang from The Chew to discuss my latest project. You know about my charitable work in Haiti and New Orleans and now Tacloban. You know the Seawall Foundation raised millions to benefit displaced and needy pets of sex workers during and after the natural disasters we all watched in horror from the comfort of our media room sectionals. You know about how Sea Studio franchises have brought the highest caliber of yoga instruction to the burrows of New York and, now, to parts of New Jersey and Connecticut. You might have even bought my healthy living book last year, “Jade Seawall: Raw No Guilt”. If you did, you’ve likely been enjoying my Shiitake Acia Cleanse (p. 37). You’re welcome!
However, if you’re discovering me for the first time, I want you to know how grateful I am to cross into your particular and beautiful plain of existence. You’re probably asking yourself, ‘Who is Jade Seawall?’ You might also be thinking, ‘The name does sound a little familiar.’ And if you’re looking at my photo on the dust jacket, you may be trying to decide if you’ve seen me in a movie. For that, I want to say thanks. Gwyn and I are compared to one another frequently and consider it a high compliment. (For the record, we only look a little alike because we both use – and adore! – the same guilt-free eyeliner; “Lady Lash”, color “Compassion”, by Rust & Moan.) No need to thank me. That’s what girlfriends do.
For the first timer to what my friends lovingly call ‘The Jade Seawall Experience’, let me break myself down a bit. I want you to take this book home not to decorate your chai table, but to help inform and enhance your sacred and beautiful life! Coincidentally, this book topped Dwell’s list of Our Favorite Reads to Put Out for Company, due largely, I think, to the fantastic photography of Roslyn Simms, who was sweet enough to delay her photo pilgrimage to Fukushima. Roslyn spent hours knotted up in corners or on tables in our tiny, adorable Williamsburg studio, photographing us in trance (even when the air conditioner fritzed on us on a hot August afternoon!) to capture the essence of our lifestyle. We are eternally thankful, Roslyn.
Yet I have not answered your questions. I haven’t painted you the picture of me that I promised. Here are the bare, brutish facts: I was born in Connecticut in the 1980s, raised abroad until I was eleven, and then sent back home to live in Manhattan while my father underwent a very high profile court room drama that is probably why you scratched your head and thought you’d heard my name somewhere. That’s right. I’m from that Seawall family. We don’t sugarcoat it and we don’t shy from it. As any shaman or guru of credentials will tell you, we let adversity and pain move through us and transform us. Or as they say in my favorite guilty pleasure, Steel Magnolias, ‘That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.’
It was a challenge, returning to the states at a vulnerable age and being placed in a private school filled with peers – each of whom knew our family scandal. I learned a lot about myself, mostly that no one can take away your best you. People can be unkind – children possibly worse – but insults are opportunities. They invite us to ask ourselves, “Hey, that hurt, but is it true?” We examine and we learn. We become our fullest selves. Or we don’t.
Seeing how girls who didn’t have my confidence began to slump under the peer pressure, I discovered by high school that I wanted to make the world a kinder, more gratifying place. That is why, when I finished at Wesley College, I turned my back on the career in finance my father wanted for me, and I opened my first Sea Studio in Soho. It was no small gamble. When I used up my entire quarterly allowance on the flooring, I’m pretty sure my friends and family braced themselves on my behalf. I learned a lot right off the top. Business won’t run itself while you’re off on an ice water cruise or taking retreat at a mud spa in Tibet. But I learn quick and now Sea Studios are run by some of the most talented and dedicated yoga and financial experts in the world. The take away for me was a lot like something advertising guru David Ogilvy once said: ‘Hire people who are better than you are, then leave them to get on with it.’
Through that lesson, I’ve been able to dedicate my energies to some of the causes I mentioned at the opening of this Forward. I’ve cultivated friendships with some of the most influential and remarkable people in politics and philanthropy, lifestyle imaging and proactive health philosophy. These connections have opened windows and they’ve scattered starlight in my path as I’ve grown from a young woman with a tiny chain of yoga studios to an internationally recognized celebrity in the world of charitable fundraising.
Detractors will say that it’s easy to gamble on dreams when another six figure check from your trust fund is only ever three months away. They’ll say it’s easy to get coverage for the opening of each new studio when your best friends are the new legends of Hollywood. They’ll make jokes about your choice to live a hybrid faith of your own contemplation, Buddhist-Scientology, and belittle you to no end. (Thanks, Kimmel. I still love your funny little smile.) In short, there are people who are haters. That is like private school.
Through this book, the journey of creating it and the journey I hope you will join in, we rise above the negativity. We find the joy in simplicity, we edit our lives until only the most meaningful things remain. We learn the difference between ‘comfort food’ and ‘bliss food’. (You’ll love our fantastic and hilarious op ed by Jamie Oliver on page 93!) We take you on journeys to parts of the world you’ve heard of before, but we show it to you through a lens that highlights the spiritual wisdom of the landscape and not merely its surface beauty. That is at the heart and soul of why I wrote this book: to help each person find their own beauty beneath the skin.
CEO, Seawall Foundation
CEO, Sea Studio, Inc
President, Seawall Publishing