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Sandwiched by Laurie James
Genre: Non-Fiction | Pages | Published: June 23, 2021 by She Writes Press
Today I’m excited to tell you about a new book by Laurie James called Sandwiched: A Memoir of Holding On and Letting Go. I’m thrilled to share an exclusive Q&A with the author in celebration of her new book! Scroll on to learn about the book, read the interview, and then go treat yourself to a copy!
Book Jacket Synopsis:
Laurie James spent most of her life wondering what it means to belong; loneliness dictated the choices she made. She rarely shared this secret with others, however; it was always hidden behind a carefree and can-do attitude. When she’s in her mid-forties, Laurie’s mother has a heart attack and her husband’s lawyer delivers some shocking news. She suddenly finds herself sandwiched between caring for her parents, managing unruly caregivers, raising four teenage daughters, and trying to understand the choices of the husband she thought she knew. Laurie’s story is about one woman’s struggle to “do it all” while facing the reality that the “ideal life” and “perfect family” she believed could save her was slowly crumbling beneath her. Laurie tries everything to keep her family together―seeks therapy, practices yoga, rediscovers nature, develops strong female friends, and begins writing―but as she explores the layers of her life and heals her past, she realizes that she’s the only one who can create the life she wants and deserves. Sandwiched is a memoir about what it means to let go of the life you planned in order to find the life you belong to.
Book Links: Amazon
Q&A with Laurie James
1. Did you always want to be a writer?
No. Unlike many writers, I never had a deep desire to become an author. I didn’t write in a journal growing up, and when my high school teacher gave me a blank page to write a story, my mind went blank, too. English was a difficult subject for me. I’ve always been more of an analytical person and always got better grades in my math classes when I was in school.
2. Tell us about the inspiration behind this book?
In many ways, my book not only found me, but it saved me during a period in my life when I was taken down a tumultuous path I didn’t see coming, beginning when my mother suddenly fell ill. The tables quickly turned from her helping me with my teen and pre-teen daughters to my needing to oversee her care, the care of my dad, and hiring caregivers for both of them.
During the first seven years, I caught caregivers drinking on the job and stealing from us. One person emotionally seduced my dad, and another stopped giving my mom her medicine and told me she thought my mother was ready to die. Each time, I replaced the caregiver, but it was difficult to find trustworthy help. I’d cry and laugh because I couldn’t have made these things up if I’d tried.
This was also a period in my life when I was raising four daughters and my marriage was beginning to fall apart. I’d tell my husband and close girlfriends about the caregiver’s antics and they encouraged me to write my stories down. I began calling those stories The Caregiver Chronicles. I cringed at the idea of writing—I didn’t see myself as a writer. I was a mother, wife, and caregiver. I hadn’t written anything except for emails. But the thought of writing about these mis-adventures returned every time another caregiver story surfaced.
One weekend, while I was on a yoga retreat, I was talking to a fellow yogi and writer who encouraged me to start writing. Something shifted that weekend, and I wrote my first few pages. They were awful, but that was the first step in learning how to become a writer and storyteller. Six months later, I signed up for a beginning memoir writing course through UCLA extension. After taking a couple of courses with UCLA, a friend told me about a six-month memoir-writing program in the Bay Area. While in the six-month program, I found a wonderful coach and mentor who believed in me. The writing process became a form of meditation and it helped me make sense of what was happening in my life during that time. After I left my marriage, I realized my story wasn’t just about overseeing my parent’s care and managing caregivers—my story was broader and encompassed my life journey. My writing coach worked with me to craft my jumbled thoughts into a story. I wrote, wrote, and rewrote my story for several more years, and the process became a much-needed creative outlet. Five years later I finished my book, Sandwiched: A Memoir of Holding on and Letting Go.
3. What are three qualities that got you where you are today?
I’d say my perseverance, commitment and my desire to help others have gotten me to where I am today. When I put my mind to something, I become determined to finish it. I certainly didn’t know how involved the process of writing, publishing and marketing a book would be. I’m very committed and I will put my heart and soul into whatever I decide to do. I also realized through my writing process the importance of giving voice to my story. It’s a universal story that so many people in mid-life can relate to. If my story reaches others and gives them some tools, hope or insight into how to navigate difficult times, then I’ve accomplished what I set out to do.
4. The one thing you’ve learned you can’t live without in a quarantine?
My family and human connection is one thing I’ll never be able to live without. I knew that before the quarantine, but during this difficult year, it solidified it even more. Three of my four daughters came home in March and we adopted a dog. We bonded and doted over. My kids and my adopted dog Lu helped me get through a difficult health crisis.
5. What are three qualities that are most important in a partner?
I believe that honesty, trust, and mutual respect are the foundation for any relationship. If you don’t have those to build on, it’s difficult for any relationship to survive.
6. What do women need more of?
Women need to be better at self-care. When I say that, I’m not just talking about working out more, eating healthier, and sleeping well. Those are very important and a good foundation to start from, but I’m also referring to learning to take care of our own emotional needs, which is something I didn’t start doing until I was in my late 40’s. Many women often take care of everyone else’s needs first and stuff their own needs down. As a transformative coach, I see so many of my clients taking care of their kids, family members, and partners and they are then left exhausted and don’t know why. We need to learn that it’s okay to tell someone you need a hug, ask a friend or partner to just listen, or decide to work with a coach or therapist to heal some of the beliefs that have stayed with you since childhood and have effected your self-worth. We need to fully love ourselves and know how to ask for what we need before we can love our children, friends and most importantly, our partners.
7. What’s the last show you binge-watched?
Schitt’s Creek—It’s so well written and the character development and relationships are hilarious and so timely.
8. What is your personal mission statement or mantra?
Carpe Diem. I’ve always tried to live life to the fullest and now that my kids are out of the house, I have more time to seize the day and imagine what else I can create in my life and in this world. I ask myself every morning, what’s going to bring me joy today? Then I do my best to fit that in.
Favorites & This or That
• Favorite color: Blue
• Favorite book: I have many, but one of the most recent ones is Educated by Tara Westover
• Favorite animal: At the moment my dog, Lu.
• Favorite source of caffeine: Lattes
• Favorite Season: Winter. I’m an avid skier. It’s also quiet in the beach town I live in and that’s also when we have the most beautiful sunsets
• Red wine or white wine: White, unless it’s a Pinot Noir
• Bookmark or dog-eared: Both
• Salty or sweet: Both
• Chocolate or candy: Chocolate
• Coffee or tea: Tea
About Laurie James
Laurie James is a mother, caregiver, divorce turned author and transformative coach. She has successfully launched her four daughters into adulthood and has been the primary caretaker for her elderly parents. Laurie has learned through therapy and other healing programs that she has everything she needs within her to create the life she desires, and she brings her life experience, wisdom, knowledge and training to other women. She is being trained as a certified coach and is working toward an ICF (International Coach Federation) credential. Laurie enjoys helping women through the transitional periods in their lives. She supports women navigate divorce, loss of spouse, parenting, betrayal, weight-loss, relationships, work place issues and more. An active community volunteer, she co-chairs a youth program for high school students, exposing them to a variety of career paths before they apply to college. She’s an active member of a collaborative giving circle that pools donation dollars to assist Los Angeles-based nonprofits help the most vulnerable.
Laurie graduated from Cal Poly Pomona with a BS in business and held a position as a corporate recruiter before she stayed home to raise her children. She lives in Manhattan Beach with her adopted husky, Lu. A native Californian, she’s a lover of yoga, hiking, skiing, sailing, and adventure travel.
- Stay connected with Laurie at www.laurieejames.com
- Newsletter: Laurieejames.com/newsletter
- Facebook Page: Laurie James Author
- Instagram: @laurie.james
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