For fans of Glennon Doyle’s Love Warrior and Trading Places: Becoming My Mother’s Mother by Sandra Bullock Smith, SANDWICHED by Laurie James, (on sale 6/23/21, She Writes Press) offers a hopeful example for women juggling the responsibilities of caring for elderly parents, dealing with a challenging marriage or a recent divorce, raising children, and seeking purpose in their life.
After her mother’s heart attack and an unexpected visit from her husband’s lawyer, Laurie James finds herself sandwiched between managing caregivers for her aging parents, raising four daughters, and trying to make sense of the overwhelm. Through trial and error, she learns to cope through therapy, yoga, rediscovering nature, and writing. Her memoir will resonate with even more people after a year in which so many families have found themselves sandwiched between their kids in virtual school, working, and concern for their elderly parents.
I am pleased to share this “Writer’s Life Interview” with Laurie James.
What have you learned from parenting, or from your own parents, that you bring to your work as a writer?
I learned from my mother the importance of creativity, but it wasn’t until later in my life that I tapped into it.
My mother was an artist and a teacher most of her life. Growing up, I remember she decorated her classroom walls every fall and they always looked so imaginative. She also painted the most beautiful landscape mural on our living room wall that was there for at least twenty years. Many friends encouraged her to sell her artwork, but she always scoffed at the idea. She stopped painting and drawing when I was eight because she was too busy raising my two older brothers and me while teaching.
When I was young, I equated being creative with being an artist like my mom—not realizing that creativity has many forms. My stick figure drawings didn’t compare to my mom’s paintings, so I never identified myself as a creative type. I did not truly appreciate her talent until I was a young adult, and it wasn’t until I started writing that I realized the importance of expressing my own creativity. It took me several years after I began writing to identify myself as a writer and creative type. Now I honor my own creativity and see how it can foster ideas, dreams, and careers.
If you had a motto, what would it be?
Carpe Diem. I have always tried to live life to the fullest and now that my kids are out of the house, I have more time for that.
Who inspires you?
There are so many inspirational people in our world, but my four daughters are at the top of my list. They are all very different, but they are each following their interests and doing things I wish I had the confidence to do at their age. I am truly in awe.
Is there a charity or community service you are passionate about?
I find myself drawn to non-profits that help women and children improve their lives. I am an active member of a Los Angeles based giving circle. We pool our donation dollars together to support many non-profits that help the most needy in the Los Angeles area. It has been a very rewarding experience.
What are you reading now and what books do you recommend?
I am currently going through Martha Beck’s Wayfinder Life Coach Training, so I have three of her books on my nightstand: Finding Your Own North Star, Steering by Starlight and Finding Your Way in a Wild New World. I highly recommend any of them if you are struggling to find purpose and direction.
For pleasure, I recently read The Four Winds, by Kristin Hannah. She is a beautiful writer.
Laurie James is mother, caregiver, divorcée, author and transformative coach. She enjoys coaching women who are searching for happiness and helping them discover what that means to them. 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 is an active member of a collaborative giving circle that pools donation dollars to help Los Angeles-based nonprofits.
Laurie graduated from Cal Poly Pomona with a BS in business and was a corporate recruiter before staying home to raise her children. She launched her four daughters into adulthood and is the primary caretaker for her elderly parents. She lives in Manhattan Beach with her adopted husky, Lu. When she is not walking her dog, volunteering, or coaching, she can be found skiing, sailing, hiking, doing yoga, spending time with her girlfriends or planning her next adventure.