Millions of families and individuals are facing extreme challenges today and TV correspondent and anchor, Jim Moret, is among them. Writing his new book, "The Last Day of My Life," helped him reexamine the value of his life, not in financial terms, but in a more meaningful way -- through the filters of love, commitment, sacrifice, gratitude, laughter and all the facets of life that make it meaningful and precious.
You seem like a guy who had everything – a loving wife, three healthy children, an interesting job and a great life. Then, like so many people, you found yourself on the brink of financial collapse and you headed into an emotional tailspin. How did you find your way back?
I got to the point where I wondered if I was worth more dead than alive. One day in April of 2008, while I was driving down a road in Malibu, a horribly dark thought came to mind that this would be a perfect spot to have what would look like an accident. Instead of making that turn over the cliff, I had a “scared straight” moment where I asked myself – what would I do if I had one day left? It was kind of a Jimmy Stewart moment. I started to look at my life and redefine it in terms of friendship, love, gratitude and forgiveness.
As you started to examine those relationships in your life, who inspired you?
The two most influential people in my life are women – my mom and my wife. My mom was married, divorced and had me by the time she was 18. She never went to college, worked as a model and a cashier at night to support us. She became a salesperson, then started her own company. She showed me you could be a strong woman, a feminine woman and a loving mom. She taught me the valuable lesson of tenacity, of not giving up.
When I was at CNN for 10 years anchoring two shows, I was offered the opportunity to move to Atlanta to anchor the morning show. At the time, my wife and I had just separated and I was living in a hotel. When I went to meet with my boss about the new job, he said to me – “I won’t allow you to move here. No one will care at the end of your life if you have another show on CNN. Go home & fix your marriage.” I did. My wife and I just celebrated 27 years of marriage. She gave me her blessing to write this very intimate book. She is one of the strongest and yet most gentle women I know and has an enormous impact on me and our family.
What role did forgiveness and gratitude play in your coming out of your dark place?
Many of us have sought to define ourselves through the car we drive, the house we live in, the salary we earn. What really saved me was my family. I chose to define my life in terms of the relationships that I cherish and by the way I treat people. I looked at friendships I had and friends I had lost to illness and the gifts they had given me – forgiveness and apology. If you had 24 hours left, who would you apologize to? That’s a humbling thing. All of us have inadvertently or on purpose hurt someone. It takes a lot to apologize, but it’s such a cleansing thing to do. And you’re not looking for anything in return. Forgiveness is also very difficult because we’ve all been wronged by someone we loved or who betrayed us. I forgave my father who gave me up for adoption at age 13 to my mom and stepdad. I may never understand why, but I had to get to a place where I could let go of the hurt and anger and forgive him. We still have a relationship and I love him. I got to the point that I could no longer hold onto the pain.
So for me, it was a process of looking at the blessings I have. I have turned around the “woe is me” attitude that I’d been carrying around and learned to embrace life. The gifts from my friends have nothing to do with money or possessions. It’s the memories and lessons they taught and the times we shared.
Women are constantly struggling with life balance issues. But many men are also involved in this struggle. How have you reconciled this issue?
I’ve made many decisions that have hurt my career because I put my family first. I may want to go to the open houses at school but I’m out of town for work. It’s a constant battle. When a man says he’s taking time off to do certain things that are perceived of as “mom duties,” it’s not even accepted. People look at you like – this isn’t that important. But it is. I believe strongly that family comes first. I’m very maternal. I hug and kiss my kids and love to cuddle. I don’t think you can love them enough.
What is the best career advice you’ve ever been given?
My parents told me – don’t choose your career for the salary. Choose something you love to do and the money will follow.
If you had an extra hour each day, how would you spend it?
I would either spend more time with my family or play the guitar.
What was the single most important lesson you learned from your experience?
I wake up every morning and go through a mantra. I ask myself – what am I grateful for? I say it out loud as I go through my list. I go through 10 words of empowerment which end with the word - “centered.” I take a breath and I’m ready to face the day. For me, this changes the whole focus of the day ahead. It resets the 24-hour clock as if this day is the last day of my life. Every day is the last day – to be cherished.
Jim Moret is Chief Correspondent for Inside Edition, America’s top-rated syndicated news magazine. A lawyer and gifted commentator, Jim also frequently appears on Larry King Live as a guest host. "The Last Day of My Life,” Jim's first book, is available in hardcover in book stores January 5, 2010 and at Amazon.com.
You can follow Jim at www.twitter.com/JimMoret.