When I first moved back from Los Angeles to San Diego, I was set-up by a mutual friend on a blind play date with Liz Laats. Deciding to meet for the first time at my favorite coffee shop, The Pannikin, Liz easily found me — the eight and a half months pregnant woman with a rambunctious toddler in one hand and a cinnamon roll in the other. She is very gracious (the second time I met her was when she delivered super yummy home made enchiladas after the baby was born) and hilarious (read her self written bio at the end of this post). Recently, she invited me to a reading by her friend, best selling author Kelly Corrigan (also very funny…and famous for it) and I asked Liz if she wanted to interview Kelly – a mother of two young girls who was diagnosed with breast cancer and then found out her father was diagnosed with late stage cancer — for Breezy Mama.
An Interview with Kelly Corrigan
by Liz Laats
I first met Kelly in 1996 through her then aspiring boyfriend, Edward, and I knew early on, she had star power. She could tell a story like no one else. The ultimate hit at a cocktail party. Then I met her family at her wedding. Everything about her made a lot more sense then. When she wrote the book, it was a bit like, “of course!” But I didn’t know it would be so fun to read and so fun to share with friends. But it makes perfect sense to me that it should be a NYT best seller. Her cancer diagnosis scared me to death. I had two girls of my own at that time and I could not begin to imagine what she was going through. I was scared to think or talk about it. But she approached it with such incredible intellectual and emotional curiosity, it was amazing. She had the strength and foresight to document everything with her camera and journal. We worried about Edward a lot. He was a rock for that family. And Kelly bravely points out in her book, it can be much harder to love someone who has cancer than to have cancer yourself.
If you haven’t read The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan yet, you probably know someone who has, and if you get them talking about it, they are going to get misty-eyed and tell you how much they loved and were completely moved by this book. And then you should go out and buy the book yourself.
It’s about a woman, a mom, a daughter, a wife and a friend. You will recognize this woman in yourself – even if you don’t have breast cancer like she has or a lovable, inspiring father like hers. You will relate. You will laugh and cry and you will pass the book on to your family and friends.
Perhaps if you haven’t read the book, you have at least seen Kelly’s You Tube video, Transcending, a tribute to women and their friends. If not, click here.
If you have read The Middle Place, you probably want to know what she’s going to do next. Here’s some brand new commentary from the author and the inside scoop on her upcoming book.
How has writing The Middle Place – and the subsequent popularity of the book – changed your life? Your family?
I work now. I went into motherhood assuming I’d be at home. But now I travel a lot and when I’m home, I am often out at nights giving readings. I actually love doing it, but the downside cannot be ignored. I have a new empathy for working moms. It’s a life of guilt. And then excitement and pride and then guilt over enjoying your work.
How did having cancer make you see your family differently?
Not hugely. Working at United Way for ten years created my worldview. Since then, I have never not understood, in a visceral way, how lucky I am to be whole, intelligent, loved, healthy, with resources. I don’t feel like I needed a wake up call to get my priorities straight.
Do you still find that you are in this middle place – between childhood and parenthood?
Yes, but less every day. My kids are so much older now and our life as a family is so much more defined. I see my parents as much as I always have, and I talk to them more often. But the life we have in California is a shared existence, if you know what I mean. It’s not just me and Edward and our babies in tow. Georgia has a life here. Claire has a life here. I am one of four people now.
How is your health now – and your Dad’s?
Excellent and excellent. We are lucky lucky people.
Over 4 million people have watched your youtube video, “Transcending” – How do you explain the popularity of this piece?
I think it’s been used in every conceivable way, as a greeting card, as an outreach to a lost friend, as a eulogy, as a cry for help. I love the idea of being useful and the way that video has been shot around makes me feel like I said something that needed saying. That is truly gratifying.
What’s next for you? You are already on book reading and speaking tours nationwide. You have your Circus of Cancer website and other projects. Will we see a new book soon?
I have a book coming out on March 3 of next year, called LIFT. It’s about this one summer when we spent 3 days in Children’s Hospital with our four month old waiting to see what kind of meningitis she had, the good kind or the devastating, potentially fatal kind. It’s about everything we saw and thought about over those 3 days and why we’re glad to have experienced it. I am also working on my 6th draft of a screenplay called Saving Fairyland, a comedy about an old theme park.
Check out Kelly’s website for more information, more video clips, articles and to subscribe to her blog– www.kellycorrigan.com.
Breezy Tip: To order The Middle Place, click here.
|Liz Laats lives in Encinitas, CA with her husband, three kids and beloved minivan. You have probably seen her recently at the Target or the VONS or at the elementary school. But if you waved and she didn’t notice you, she was probably on the phone and feels really bad about it.|
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