Oprah Magazine – January 2001

Are You Listening To Your Life? (The story of transformation)

When I was growing up in Salt Lake City, my dream was to open my own clothing store in New York. And in the early 1970’s, I launched Grand Hotel, the first women’s boutique in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood. Today the area is a shopping mecca, but back then it was populated mainly by artists and galleries. For nearly 15 years, I was riding high. My designs were a big hit, the money was flowing, and my life was glamorous. But something was missing.

I had a few wonderful men in my life and the business was doing well. But I spent the weekends crying. I felt there was more to life, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. I saw a therapist for a while, but I grew tired of analyzing. In 1980 I took a workshop on how to meditate, and it revolutionized my world. I began to see how we create our lives and our reality from our own thoughts. I was hungry for spiritual knowledge. I reed books and took more workshops.

Every year I’d vacation in Negril, Jamaica, a magical place where I always felt renewed. I would write, read, get back in touch with myself. I thought I might like to retire there some day. In 1987 when I was 48 years old, I’d closed Grand Hotel, and I was planning to open a small department store in New York, with a day spa in the basement, a place where women could be pampered. There was nothing like it then. I’d found the perfect space, but the landlord suddenly changed his mind. I was so disappointed! I went home that night, and opened a bottle of champagne, and cried. I asked God for help. The next morning a voice inside me said “Call that man and thank him, because he saved your life. You wanted to get out of this business eventually, so do it now. Go to Jamaica and open a holistic spa.” I’d thought that plan was for later in my life when my fashion career was finished, but the universe was saying, “Okay, girlfriend, you’re finished now.”

Even as a little girl I listened to my inner voice. My parents would tell me something, and I’d think, Well, they just don’t know. I Never worry about failing. Instead, I think, Now what? And I don’t let fear stop me. I Went to Jamaica, scouted the island on a motorbike, and pitched a tent on four-and-a-half acres of available underdeveloped property overlooking a coral reef, just outside Negril. I spent a year and a half roughing it, without running water, or electricity, raveling back and forth to New York, raising money by selling antique items and my personal belongings at flea markets.

Designing the spa and overseeing its construction was a slow process. It was 1996 before Jackie’s On The Reef was up and running and that’s when my life began to work. With the store I’d been helping women see their beauty from the outside. I came to the realization that what I’d really wanted was to help them see their inner beauty. The spa is a place to de-stress with nature and restore your inner self. Every time a guest leaves feeling revitalized and rejuvenated, I know I’ve done my job. And that’s every day.

I’m 61 now, and I’m thinking of bringing in management for Jackie’s On The Reef so that I can get back to me. I’m working on a cookbook. And I’d like to go out into the jungle and work with a shaman. Maybe I’ll fall in love.