is a reality many face, but are unable to grasp and overcome until exhaustion sets in
and the need for liberation and honesty outweighs any backlash.

For Velez, the struggle was not short-lived. Dealing with an alcohol addiction pushed
for justification about her sexuality and thus, an excuse to keep her lifestyle secret.

“It was only when I got sober that I found I had nowhere to run
and nowhere to hide,” says Velez. “Then I had to admit to
myself and my therapist I was gay.” The simultaneous fight with
alcoholism and denying her sexuality has been an incredible
stepping stone into a life of rigorous honesty exemplified in
iWant.

The process to achieving sobriety for Velez was the introduction into the 12-step
process she introduces in her book - a process she used to overcome each of her
toxic secrets, from self-acceptance, to overconsumption, to taking a proactive stance
on environmentalism and veganism. For those who have lived and experienced the 12-
step program, the lessons of each step become essential to achieving a genuine
happiness that extends beyond the gratification and health of sobriety. In the end,
Velez’s iWant is a portrayal of “how America is consuming addictively and how the 12-
Steps of recovery can help break a rapacious cycle that is destroying our environment
and not making us any happier in the process.”

Traditionally, society identifies each of Velez’s struggles independently, rarely
embracing the idea that those who suffer through addiction are confronted
     with other equal personal challenges. Velez’s strength to rise above a
     conglomerate of issues, through imposition or assimilation, is
     admirable. Beyond that, it is a message of hope for many of us who feel
     it is too late or just not worth the risk to change.  
In fact, Velez’s Latin roots became an issue throughout her career and personal
life. “I decided to add my mother’s name ‘Velez’ because I am Puerto Rican and
didn’t think my vanilla sounding name, Jane Mitchell, really reflected who I am,”
she says. In addition to breaking through the walls of addiction and acceptance of
her sexuality, pushing through the uncommon shell of a Puerto Rican/Irish
background, has also added to Velez’s overall vision for iWant.  For Velez, who has
been able to overcome MANY taboo issues, iWant serves not only as a release of
guilt but also the realization that there is something much more powerful that
drives innate happiness. More importantly, Velez’s story is about an authentic
decision to stop seeking external justification and instead wanting the things that
cannot be drank, bought, or disguised.

iWant is a realistic and colloquial representation of a woman who has had to deal
with personal choices that led to self-destruction, but at the same time, were the
renaissance of a woman who’s freedom is defined by the lessons of that
destruction.  While denial and alcoholism were choices compelled by
unawareness and personal familiarity, Velez also felt the consequences of life’s
transgression – a battle with breast cancer that pushed her to recognize mortality
and unconditional love from friends and family. Velez’s journey to raise awareness
within her and others, who can empathize, is an indication that life’s tests are
beyond our control and remind us that not stagnating our growth and exercising
our personal freedom is the only route to happiness – not alcohol, not denial, not
instant gratification.

iWant is an honest revelation of Velez’s life without blame or accusations. It is,
indeed, a true reverence to a full acceptance of self and life decisions. Whether
those decisions deteriorated Velez’s life at certain moments, they paved the path
for a spiritual and emotional maturity that most of us dream of achieving.

Often it is said that we must choose the battles we fight. To that end, we
www.ambiente.us  OCTOBER | OCTUBRE 2009

Jane Velez-Mitchell |A Personal Battle into Spiritual Victory
by Vanessa Brito

Life’s hurdles are confronted with great hesitation, for their outcomes affect the lives
beyond that of the frontrunner. Their effects and consequences lay in oblivion until we
encounter the one moment that pushes us to rediscover and proliferate our true selves
– without inhibitions, fear, or scapegoats.

Indeed, this is a feat all its own – one that Jane Velez-Mitchell , host of Issues with Jane
Velez-Mitchell on HLN - has met through a journey of self-honesty through all aspects
of her life. Velez-Mitchell in her recently published autobiography, iWant, offers a
sincere and most pragmatic course of a woman whose fear, addiction, health, ethnicity
and sexuality pushed for a comprehensive lifestyle change to fully accept herself and
thrive off the experiences of the challenges each represent.

At the age of 50, Jane Velez-Mitchell came out as a lesbian on a radio show amidst
commentary regarding Senator Larry Craig’s “toe tapping in a men’s public restroom.”
For years, Velez kept her sexuality hidden, fearing the impacts on her career – a fear
she admits was “self-generated” and garnered little reaction and backlash.  While fear
of negative reaction is often self-imposed, it
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choose the battles we feel will produce the most
valuable results or life lessons. For Velez, each battle
was chosen and fought ferociously to win a war against
the insurgency of personal demons over a lifetime.
















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