iWant: One Journey from Addiction and Overconsumption, to a Simpler, Honest Life
Recently I reviewed the book iWant by Jane Velez-Mitchell, HLN's Host of Issues with Jane-Velez Mitchell and it's nothing short of a very honest look at one person's very public struggle to come to peace with herself. Yet, while the process takes many years and is never really "complete," Velez-Mitchell doesn't beat the reader over the head and welcomes you to take the journey with her and possibly take the journey for yourself. The book starts out at the beginning and moves chronologically through her life, weaving in how different aspects her upbringing influenced who she became and the decisions she made. Her parents were both adventuresome and taught her to be an individual and think for herself, but they also taught her some negative things that weighed her down as she grew up. Velez-Mitchell tackles topics like alcoholism, loneliness, sexuality and even how being a workaholic nearly destroyed her. While she explains how she came to be under the influence of each of these vices, she also explains how she got out and was able to make peace on each issue.
Velez-Mitchell is still a successful newswoman, now hosting her own show on HLN, but she's also learned to slow down and enjoy the here and now. She is now a vegan and also has a couple of dogs, which help to keep her grounded. In addition, her personal journey, which led her to give up alcohol completely, also caused her to look at other aspects of her life. The story is also a really interesting look at how the events in one's life all seem to happen for a reason. For example, while being a workaholic and constantly on the road are not great ingredients for a balanced, grounded life, they did cause her to meet some of the people that influenced her interest in animal rights and environmental protection.
One thing I particularly enjoyed reading about was her advice on becoming more aware of her impact on the environment. For example, at one point she kept a journal of every single item she ate and or ordered. Suddenly, she was very aware of just how much everything she purchased was overpackaged and "throw-away." She then carried this experiment into making a list every time she purchased something and to be honest she became annoyed at just how much shopping she was doing - from clothing to toothbrushes and everything in between. According to Velez-Mitchell,
"It became overwhelming and irritating. It also took the fun out of buying the items and showed me that many of my purchases were self-indulgent and unnecessary."This just seems like a very easy exercise that anyone can do but could really bring into focus just how much money and how much "stuff" one person really consumes.
Living in Hollywood, she admits, there is a pressure to "belong" and essentially keep up with the Joneses once you get inside those golden gates. This was a hard thing to come to terms with and also a hard thing to let go of. After becoming aware of her environmental footprint, Velez-Mitchell then hosted several "get-togethers" with friends (and really anyone interested in joining in) to talk about overconsumption, global warming, the state of the planet and even just how to balance the need to purchase items with the guilt of what that really means to the planet. When she hosted the groups, Velez-Mitchell admits she was worried no one would care enough to come, and also that they would find the setting hypocritical - talking about overconsumption in a very nice LA home. Yet, many of the attendees had very profound and universal feelings and none criticized the host.
Velez-Mitchell also comments that she essentially lived out of a suitcase while covering the Michael Jackson trial and realized that the few items she carried with her was really all she needed. While she is not giving up everything, and while her job requires her to uphold a certain "look," she did realize that many of the extravagances are just that, extravagances and pretty trivial in the grand scheme.
The book ends with a "call to action" to get involved in environmental action and your own journey towards truth. After being diagnosed with breast cancer, Velez-Mitchell admits that while she was still agonizing over her impact on the planet, she also gained a new sense of calm and focus, allowing her to enjoy the present and do what she can today while not worrying so much about tomorrow. She also uses her venue (a very popular cable news station) to bring up otherwise rarely noted topics, like animal rights and global warming. In the end, it seems Velez-Mitchell has given up a lot in her life, but acknowledges that she has gained so much more and she hopes you will try it too.
You can read more about her bold journey in iWant, now available at your local library and on Amazon.com.
More on Overconsumption8 Books to Give Yourself a Green EducationBook Review: Toolbox for Sustainable City Living by Scott Kellogg & Stacy PettigrewEco-Cities of Tomorrow: An Interview with Richard RegisterReduce Overconsumption Not Population Growth the Real Environmental Problem