LeAnn Rimes lived the first half of her life at light speed. The 34-year-old started singing at 3, took to the Texas opry stages at 5, and at 14 became the youngest person ever to win a Grammy. At a time when other teenagers are just figuring out where they fit in and who they are, Rimes was shouldering the burden of fame—the pressure, the scrutiny, and the responsibility of employing a team of nearly 70. By her 20s, she'd experienced landslide career success but was being crushed by anxiety, depression, and insecurity. The day after her 30th birthday, she started her journey to wellness. Soul-searching, guided by visionaries in wellness, helped her heal from a lost childhood and embrace the gifts in her life. She's now ready to share her journey with a new blog, Soul of EverLe, launching this weekend. She sat down with mindbodygreen to talk about the challenges she's faced and the happiness she's building every day.
mindbodygreen: How did you start performing? Was it something you were drawn to do?
LeAnn Rimes: It came so naturally to me. I would learn a new song every week and practice during the week. My dad was great about that and instilled a very strong work ethic in me. It was always fun to be, you know, onstage and still to this day. It's just such a release.
mbg: What was it a release from?
LR: Well, I was diagnosed with psoriasis when I was 2. I was 80 percent covered by the time I was 6. I was constantly in and out of the hospital and trying to work with that. And at around 5 years old I started singing onstage at all the Texas opries every Saturday night. It was tough. Kids can be cruel. Between the psoriasis and having to constantly cover that and the singing, the girls at school really didn't love that. My teachers and my principal would always put stuff up about me that had gone in the newspaper. It wasn't the easiest of times for me growing up, but music was my escape. I definitely struggled with a few things.
mbg: From the outside you looked like the epitome of success. How did those struggles manifest?
LR: I hid a lot of things as a kid. I was wearing jeans in 105-degree weather or three pairs of pantyhose onstage to cover the psoriasis. My sweet mother did it to try to protect me, but when you start hiding parts of yourself it really messes with your head and then you start thinking that you need to hide other things and feelings and stuff everything down. So music for me was definitely an emotional release. And still is! I was just onstage last night crying. The music just hits me sometimes. I think that was one of the reasons I was able to relate in such an adult way to those early songs because even though I might not have experienced what the song was saying, I had those emotions inside. The most powerful singers are the ones who allow for that vulnerability. Last night I was holding back tears for five songs at first. I finally had to say, "I'm emotional tonight."
mbg: I'm sure people loved that rawness and authenticity.
LR: Yeah, I've learned there's no hiding onstage for me. And I sat there thinking this is a really vulnerable place to be. When I was younger I was working so much that I became kind of a robot. I could check out. These days I really try to be present and that presence is very powerful and very intense. Especially when you see people being moved by what you're doing.
mbg: Was "checking out" a means of self-protection?
LR: Yeah. My friends and my parents have all these stories about when I was 14 or 15 and I'm like "Oh I did that? I don't remember that." I kind of shut off. I was constantly on the road. So for me it was normal. I didn't feel the stress of it at the time until I was about 16 or 17. By then I'd done 500 shows. I think the biggest stress was having 67 people on payroll at that age. If I didn't work, they didn't work. It was a lot of responsibility.
mbg: What were the coping mechanisms you had at that time?
LR: Food. We lived in the South so it was fried and cheese—the good stuff. Not the stuff that's good for you. But something else that helped was that I had a friend who was on tour with me for about a year and a half. We would go like we were shopping or we'd go like take Jet Skis out during the day like we, you know, we try to do stuff that was somewhat normal but it was hard.
mbg: How did your journey to wellness begin?
LR: Around my 30th birthday, I was just in so much internal pain and anxiety and depression and carrying on so much guilt and shame. It was difficult. I made the decision to check myself in somewhere the day after my 30th birthday. I was like "I can't go into my 30s like this." I just don't want to feel this way anymore. I think you have to get to that point. You know you can find every way to cope and all of a sudden when those coping mechanisms don't work anymore, it's intense and it's affecting your relationships. You want to be a whole person who can stand on their own. It was time for me to do that. I had a lot of things that were developed about me. But obviously there are a lot of things that were stunted because I didn't get to be a child so I had to develop those other pieces. I felt very fragmented. It was time to try to become whole. I did four and a half years of searching. Once I started seeing positive changes it became my mission to feel better. I want to heal from this. I don't want to walk around in constant anxiety and sadness all the time.
mbg: What were the most valuable tools for you that you used to do that healing and get in touch with yourself?
LR: I did talk therapy for a good couple of years and it was very helpful, but after a while I felt like I was of going round and around talking about the same things. About a year and a half ago I was on Instagram and I found this article on Ashley Neese, who is a healer in breath work. I went to her blog and I was reading everything and I thought she's going to think I'm crazy if I just randomly call someone off Instagram. So I waited for about five or six months and she kept popping up in my face all the time and finally I was like "OK I don't know what you do but I need I need to do what you do." Her breath work and meditation really changed my life. I couldn't sit for five minutes; now I'm like "Leave me alone for an hour; I'll see you later." I was really having trouble onstage because I felt like I was absorbing everything around me. When you're in that vulnerable space onstage you have all of these people emitting their energy back to you; it's incredible but I would walk off just exhausted. I'm learning how to take my energy back and protect myself. She released some old, suppressed stuff. She got to the core—she was chipping away at the very beginning. And the great thing about her is she's taught me how to be my own healer. It's so important. I think a lot of people want you to depend on them. She'll give you the tools. She gives me homework and sends me off on my way. Then I met Shaman Durek and I've been doing kundalini yoga with Guru Jagat.
mbg: How did you heal your psoriasis?
LR: I found a biologic drug Humira that I have been taking for 12 years. I was one of the first people they put on it because I tried every drug known to man and it would stop working for me at some point. It's painful. But I've been clear for 12 years, which has changed my life. People always make fun of me; they're like, "There are so many pictures of you in a bathing suit." I'm like, "I would walk around naked if I could. You have no idea how much I've covered myself." It's so liberating.
mbg: How do you approach nutrition?
LR: I started changing my diet a little bit when I was around 21, 22, and it became a lot of protein and chicken and fish and vegetables—really healthy stuff. And then my diet became really restricted for a while where I would only eat certain things. And I thought, this is not fun. I love food. I work out so I can eat. I got to the point where I was not enjoying food anymore. So I started to allow myself, you know, all of these things that I love to eat. But it's a balance. It really is. I mean I obviously know what I'm putting in my body affects so many different things and I think when you look at it from that perspective, like what it can make you look like. You know, looking at it from a health perspective changes everything.
mbg: Did someone help you to learn about nutrition or was that all self-taught?
LR: My ex-husband was way into nutrition so was the first person who kicked that off. But then I really started to know my body and what works and what doesn't, and what's inflammatory to my system.
mbg: What does a typical day meal look like for you?
LR: Well, this morning I had oatmeal with stewed figs and almond milk, which was really good. I have coffee every once in a while and it's literally like 3 ounces. And sometimes I do it with ghee—bulletproof. So good. But it's really acidic; for me, it's an every-once-in-a-while thing. I'll have a snack. I had pistachios just a few minutes ago. I like those Perfect Food bars, which are really delicious. There's a popcorn that Erwhon makes that has spirulina and turmeric. And for lunch it's usually a protein shake or I'll do chicken or fish salad. I also make wraps at home. I do turkey breast, a little bit of paleo mayo, spinach. I love the Sunfoods coconut wraps. They're so good.
mbg: For dinner do you eat in or out?
LR: Dinner is sushi sometimes. We go out a lot or order Postmates. I'm usually only home for a couple of days, but when I am I love to cook. I love the whole process of going to the grocery store. I could spend hours in a grocery store. If I'm going to cook I like to spend the day doing it. And I love a slow cooker. We have an RV and we'll take the kids and go to the desert or the beach. So we can use the slow cooker while we're gone.
mbg: Do you have a go-to slow-cooker recipe?
LR: Yes! It's from Williams-Sonoma. It's chicken with verde pumpkin seed mole.
mbg: How has your fitness regimen has evolved?
LR: I probably started working out around the same time as I was learning about nutrition. I was lifting weights five or six times a week and doing yoga a lot when I first started. And then I went into Pilates and I've gone back and forth between Pilates and yoga. Now I do a lot of just circuit training; I'll do boxing. I had a tailbone injury a few months ago so I haven't been boxing since but I really want to get back into it.
mbg: Are you a morning or evening exerciser?
LR: I have to get it done. If it's past 11...I mean I'll go. My husband loves SoulCycle. He's obsessed; sometimes he'll go at 5:30 in the evening, and I'll go, but I'm dragging to get there. I feel good after. But most of the time it's in the morning.
mbg: Tell me more about your spiritual journey. What was your belief system like as a kid?
LR: I grew up Southern Baptist; that's what I was raised. And I always questioned that because I didn't understand how anybody could be left out. Music became a very spiritual space for me. Ashley turned me on to A Course in Miracles. I am a huge Marianne Williamson fan. Her stuff is so powerful in shifting perception. Infusing things with love, finding that within yourself, and cultivating that—it's a daily practice. I do the workbook and it's part of my meditation practice. For me, I've learned that spirit comes first and, like everything, kind of grows from that. You know I work a lot with the LGBTQ community and equality is a big thing for me. We're all the same. I try to come from a place of love and acceptance. To me that's spirituality in itself.
mbg: Do you have a group who supports your spiritual journey?
LR: I haven't found that. And it's hard because I'm not really in the same place very often. I do go to Marianne's lectures here in New York. It's in a beautiful little church and there's great people. It's very inspiring. You can livestream it, too. But being in touch with Ashley and Shaman Durek and Guru Jagat, that's my support system. And I think that's what I'm wanting to do with my blog: create a community where like-minded people can discuss what they're going through and what they're experiencing and share what's working for them and what's not working for them. My fans are constantly asking me, "We see you growing; we see you changing and evolving and in such a healthy way. What are you reading; where do you work? What are you experiencing?" I can only do so much on Instagram. So I thought, OK, it's time to branch out and do more writing about it.
mbg: Is Soul of EverLe, your new blog, all you?
LR: It's only me at the moment. I'm launching it around Mother's Day. Soon. I'll blog about my journey and talk about why I'm doing this. I wrote a blog about mothers and healing the generational pain that's been passed along for centuries. I wrote a song on my last album called Mother. That kind of broke open something for me about realizing a lot of the pain and shame and guilt that I was carrying around. You start to realize each generation only has a certain set of tools that they were taught. It's really easy to blame your parents. I've been in that place for many years. Then all of a sudden, having an aha moment, I realized it's not my mom's fault. I have the opportunity to be able to shift and change that and heal that. My mom's incredible. Now we have an interesting relationship. We go through cycles of being really close and accepting each other and annoying the crap out of each other, like any mother and daughter can do. But writing that song has broken open this shell that's been around my heart. You know, I have two stepsons who are 10 and 13. And so having them around kind of puts it into perspective how much mothering takes. Just to see my mom as a woman and understand what challenges she has overcome, that she did the best she could. It opened my eyes. It's been very, very therapeutic for me to be able to write in a different way than, you know, to my music.
mbg: What are the differences between writing music and writing a blog?
LR: When I'm writing music there's a melody behind it. I need to put on some classical music while I'm blogging, honestly! It makes it an easier process for me. I'm a horrible speller and that stopped me from writing for a really long time. It was something that was very debilitating for me. I would write these creative papers in school and just spelled phonetically. I had to break through that fear and realize, "OK, we can spell check." When I did, I realized there's this whole other well of creativity I can draw from.
mbg: Is there something you wish you could have given yourself back in those younger days when you were struggling?
I think the biggest thing for me is "Follow your intuition." I was so intuitive as a child. But when you start to hear so many opinions from different people and you're trying to run a business instead of being free, you're selling something you really aren't anymore. I really stopped listening to that part of myself and now I'm really cultivating that again and trusting that piece of myself.
mbg: What continues to drive you?
LR: We talked about uncovering these pieces of me and I've always been able to connect people through music, and now it's just about connection. It's about being a healer in a way that I've always healed through my music. Now it's about sharing these parts of myself that I've hidden. Discovering and uncovering the creative parts of myself that were there all along but I've been too afraid to share. I would never have started this blog if I still had that fear. The excitement of uncovering all of these pieces and being able to put them out into the world, where hopefully people can connect with it and be healed and find their own way to healing—that excites me.