Q&A with Laurie James, author of Sandwiched: A Memoir of Holding on and Letting Go

Photo by Bradford Rogne Photography

What is SANDWICHED about and why did you write it?

Sandwiched: A Memoir of Holding on and Letting Go is about a time in my life when I was sent down a tumultuous path after my mother had a heart attack and my husband’s lawyer delivered some shocking news. I was suddenly faced with caring for my elderly parents, managing unruly caregivers, raising four teenage daughters, and trying to understand my husband’s choices. 

It’s a story about my struggle to “do it all” while facing the reality that the life and family I thought would save me from my loneliness was slowly crumbling beneath me. I tried everything to keep my family together: I sought therapy, practiced yoga, rediscovered nature, developed strong female friends, and began writing. As I explored the layers of my life, I began to heal my past and realized I was the only one who could create the life I wanted and deserved. 

What advice would you give to women juggling the responsibilities of caring for elderly parents, raising children, and seeking purpose in their life?

First, be kind to yourself and do what you can without compromising your own needs. Ask for help and emotional support from other family members, friends, or your place of faith. Learn to say no if a social commitment doesn’t feel like it will bring you happiness or feed your soul. 

Second, the question I continuously asked myself during my experience what am I supposed to learn or takeaway from my circumstances.  Instead of why is this happening to me? Sometimes I didn’t discover what the lesson was for several weeks, months, or years. I believe that there is always an opportunity for us to grow from our experiences. That’s one reason why we’re here. And those lessons and opportunities will continue to show up until we’ve learned them. 

My last suggestion is to question your thoughts and the stories you tell yourself. One of my many beliefs was that if I created the family and marriage I lacked as a child, I would feel safe. The opposite was true. It took twenty years to realize that. Then I spent the next six years trying to get my ex-husband to become the person I needed him to be. Now, I believe my husband was brought into my life so I could learn how to love myself first. If we don’t learn how to love ourselves, we can’t truly love others in a meaningful way. 

Did you ever feel overwhelmed in your journey? What helped you feel less overwhelmed or how did you handle it?

MANY times!! 

I’m one of those people who can multi-task and manage a lot, but sometimes to my own detriment. I will do anything for the people I love. But I got to a point when I was so unhappy, I knew I needed to start putting my needs first before everyone else’s. 

I’ve always been a person who has eaten well, doesn’t drink too much, and who gets regular sleep and exercise, but there were days when I felt drained and not getting my emotional needs met by my loved ones. I started going to yoga retreats, spending time in nature, taking spiritual courses and reading books by spiritual thought leaders like Eckhart Tolle, Michael Singer, Jack Kornfield, and many others.  Turning inward helped me put my responsibilities into perspective and taught me to change the false stories I’d been telling myself. And I learned how to ask for support when I needed it.  

What advice would you have for women who are seeking greater purpose, especially a woman who has achieved financial success in their career and a good marriage, but still feels unfulfilled?

I would suggest your readers ask themselves what’s their point of least satisfaction and why? We have to work through our points of unhappiness and beliefs in order to find more happiness and purpose in our lives. 

Next, look at your strengths and what you value to see if there’s some way you can use those skills to create something that matters to you. Maybe start a new more meaningful business, mentor someone, or get involved in a non-profit.  For me, finding greater purpose was helping others and finding ways to lift other people up.

What advice would you give to people who feel guilty about taking care of themselves or their needs because they believe they need to be spending their time and energy helping their children and our parents?

Put your oxygen mask on first. It’s such a simple analogy, but so many women don’t do it. I was guilty of this, too. We mimic our parental role models, listen to societal messages, and do what others expect from us, while putting our needs last. We need to learn to give ourselves permission to do the things that help us refuel and fill our own tanks so we are able to be there for the ones we love.

What is one of the biggest challenges in your journey and what helped you get through it?

I’d say my biggest challenge was facing my childhood trauma and working through it. It was and still is very hard work, but it’s allowed me to heal, process, and grow from my experiences in ways I never thought possible. 

C.S. Lewis said, “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” And I feel like I’m living proof of this. 

Did you experience any serendipity or synchronicity in your journey? If so, what happened?

Yes, but it wasn’t until I worked through many of my limiting beliefs that synchronicity started showing up in my life. I can’t pinpoint one example. For me, it was a series of people who have come into my life who supported and guided me through the writing, publishing, and marketing of my book. I also have a loving supportive group of women who are always there for me and I for them. I believe when we are doing what we are meant to in life, everything starts to fall into place. 

Anything else?

Thank you this interview. For those who would like to stay connected with me they can find me at:

Website: laurieejames.com

IG: laurie.james

FB: Laurie James Author