Writer Laurie James Goes from Sandwiched to Enlightenment—Helping Others Along the Way

New chapter.

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  • Written & photographed by
    Kat Monk

To the outside world, Laurie James appeared capable and carefree. But life took a turn when her marriage started to crumble and her mother suffered a heart attack. After eight tumultuous years of feeling squashed between caring for her mother and raising her daughters, she chose a path toward self-actualization. With self-care as a priority, today she is an author and a life coach. 

Her book Sandwiched characterizes this particular period in her life. “I was sandwiched between caring for my elderly parents, managing unreliable caregivers and raising four teenage daughters,” Laurie says. 

Journalist Christine Ro, in her story for BBC Worklife entitled “Why The ‘Sandwich Generation’ is so Stressed Out,” reports that this trend is common. “We’re also seeing more ‘triple-decker sandwich’ individuals. This involves, for instance, people in their 60s helping to care for their grandchildren, which allows their adult children to work, as well as supporting their own parents in their 90s.” 

As such, it became increasingly hard for Laurie to take care of herself, and stress began to take a toll. For the sake of her daughters, she quashed the feelings and soldiered on. 

Laurie’s life changed after her twin daughters headed off to college. Armed with her can-do attitude, she evaluated the signs popping up in life and sought a path to let go and rediscover herself. One thing Laurie does not regret is staying home to raise her daughters—something she says is both her proudest and most challenging accomplishment in life. 

Laurie’s mom has since passed away, and her four daughters are adults now. “I’m a free bird, not an empty nester,” she adds. She sought yoga and therapy and rediscovered nature. “It was an opportunity for me to spread my wings and do a lot of things I wanted to do that I put off because I intentionally put my kids first.” 

With a bachelor’s degree from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, Laurie continued her education with writing courses through the extension program at the University of California, Los Angeles. The deeply personal Sandwiched is her first book. She also wrote a two-part blog post for the nonprofit South Bay Families Connected entitled ADD and My Kid. 

“I admire her authenticity and willingness to share the challenges in her life, especially those as a parent,” shares Laura McIntyre, founder and creative director of South Bay Families Connected. “She has helped other parents know they aren’t alone.”

Laurie now knows she has everything she needs within her to create the life she desires, and she wants to share that knowledge with other women. Now a certified coach by the International Coaching Federation, she enjoys guiding women who are searching for happiness and helping them discover what that means to them. 

Laurie has found love again and is embarking on blending the two families. She recently transitioned from working as a transformative coach to a relationship coach, helping women find more joy in their dating lives. Laurie believes some of the primary elements to begin this process are to understand your attachment styles and to have a relationship with yourself. 

“It’s hard to trust when many people you loved hurt you,” explains Laurie. “But the right person will show you how to trust again.”