Amanda Kloots, LIVE YOUR LIFE

Amanda Kloots, LIVE YOUR LIFE

Zibby is joined by Amanda Kloots —dancer, fitness instructor, and one of the newest co-hosts on The Talk— to discuss her new memoir, Live Your Life. The two bonded over the unique and traumatic experience of losing a loved one to COVID-19 but focused more on the joy that comes when you live your life: from spending time with your kids and putting effort into your dream business to (yes) even working out. Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books has teamed up with Katie Couric Media and Random House to give away 100 copies of Sarah Sentilles’ book, Stranger Care! Enter the giveaway by clicking here:


Zibby Owens: Welcome, Amanda. Thank you so much for coming on “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books.”

Amanda Kloots: Thank you for having me. I appreciate being here.

Zibby: This is so crazy for me because I’ve listened to your audiobook, so I feel like your voice is in my head now. Now here you are again, and also in the flesh on Zoom. It’s very cool.

Amanda: Yes, I’ve been listening to little bits of the audiobook too just because you do it and then you’re like, I hope that turned out okay. I’ve been listening to my own voice as well.

Zibby: There was literally one small section, I was like, it kind of sounds like she has a cold here. I wonder if she’s getting some allergies.

Amanda: No, it was just through the tears. It was more so that. That audiobook was very hard to do. I knew it would be hard, but it was brutal.

Zibby: Did you go in somewhere to do it? Could you do it at home?

Amanda: I went to a recording studio, so you were in a black box all by yourself. Everything was over Zoom with the director and the sound mixer. You were reading the story aloud, which I’ve never done. When you write it, you’re just typing. I was reading it aloud to myself in a black room, so it got pretty emotional.

Zibby: Wow, that does not sound like fun. I’m even more impressed that you managed to pull it off.

Amanda: Thank you.

Zibby: I’m sure most people know your story, but if you wouldn’t mind just explaining what even made you want to write a book and what the gist of the story is about for those who might not have heard about your experience with Nick and COVID and everything, and Elvis and the whole story that you write about so beautifully.

Amanda: I didn’t even think about writing a book, to be honest. I got an email from Lisa Sharkey at HarperCollins who had taken some of my fitness classes and is a friend of my best friend. She said to me, “I’m one of the women that is singing every day and praying every day and watching everything every day. I want you to write this down. It needs to be written down. You need to write a memoir.” She championed that idea. What I really appreciated at the time, because it was in June, she said, “Amanda, I don’t care how it ends. It’s important for you to write this down. I just feel it.” I can’t thank her enough for doing that. In writing it, not only was it like therapy, so cathartic just to take everything that was in my head and put it on a page, but it is Nick’s story. He now knows his story. It’s in the dedication, but now Elvis has his story. I’m grateful that one day Elvis will be able to read this and have all of the details that I’m sure I will forget. Life goes on. You forget. Okay, wait, no, it was ten o’clock on the eighteenth. You forget the details. As the son who loses his father and won’t remember anything, I think it’s important that he’ll have all of that, all of those miniscule things that he would ask me. What did the doctors say after that, Mom? Now he has it. I’m really grateful for that. I think when readers read this book, you’re expecting maybe what you think this story is because you followed me on Instagram and followed what I was sharing at the time. What it really is, it’s the full, honest truth. You really learn all about Nick and I, our romance, our love story, my family, why we are who we are, why we believe what we believe. There’s a lot of beautiful, happy, joyous moments within this book. It’s not just a sad story.

Zibby: No, not at all. It’s so relatable. I think that’s what made it so much even better than if you had said, everything was perfect, and then this happened. Everyone out there can relate to — even when you talked about whether or not you should move to LA. Nick wanted to move to LA, but you had just gotten set up. Your parents were across the hall. Literally, I’m listening, I’m being like, why did she say yes? Why is she doing this? I don’t think I’m as nice as you or something. I feel like I would’ve been like, I’m going to just stay right here, thank you.

Amanda: It was a year of fighting about that. I didn’t just give in because that’s not my personality either. Eventually, it came down to, Nick was just so miserable in New York. Part of marriage is that, okay, let’s do this. Let’s try it. It’s a safe move at the moment. We have a friend who’s offering us a home to live in. If it utterly fails, New York doesn’t go anywhere. New York never changes, in a way. I knew that we had that security blanket. I think that’s the only reason why I eventually gave in.

Zibby: It’s true. I lived in LA for two years after college. The whole time, I was like, gosh, I’m missing so much. Then I would go visit and I’m like, everything is exactly the same. Then I came back two years later. It was as if I had been gone for the weekend. Then I had gained all this new, amazing experience. I knew how to use a Thomas Guide to get myself around LA. I was like, this is amazing. I can really actually drive now without getting in an accident. New York, it’s like a beacon no matter what it goes through.

Amanda: I think that it’s such a lesson to remember in life. I lived in New York for nineteen years. A lot of people would be like, yeah, I can get why you just wanted to stay put. That’s your home. Also, life is full of these adventures. You can either take them — you can always go back. New York, whatever city you’re moving from, you can always go back if it doesn’t work out. It’s risky, yes. Some people hate taking risk. It is scary to be risky, but there’s always the option of going back to right where you were.

Zibby: Very true, only enhanced, really.

Amanda: Right, exactly. I was just going to say that.

Zibby: With, certainly, new experiences. When I lived out there, by the way, I lived in Laurel Canyon. All the Laurel Canyon chants and cheers and all the references, I was like, oh, my gosh. I lived on Wonderland. It’s just crazy.

Amanda: Oh, my gosh, so it’s not lost on you. So many times, people are like, I’ve lived in California my whole life. Should I be contemplating about moving to Laurel Canyon? What is this community? I did not know this community existed within LA. I was like, I’ve never lived anywhere other than Laurel Canyon, so I can’t compare it, but this is Laurel Canyon. Just the other night, I was at another community music night in somebody’s backyard. Everyone’s on their blankets and wearing their flannels. There’s local musicians playing music. It’s beautiful.

Zibby: I never heard about any music. I was so young. I was alone most of the time because the guy I was dating at the time was always at work. I was in this house that smelled of somebody’s dead cats. There were all these weird sounds. I was like, I don’t know, maybe I need to go back to Manhattan.

Amanda: Oh, no.

Zibby: I know. I wish I had stuck it out. I ended up moving back to West Hollywood and getting all the chaos that I had missed. Anyway, one of the things. So you wrote this whole journal. As you said, you were afraid you might forget some of the details. Yes, there’s all this about your relationship — by the way, also, I meant to say, so great for you to describe the fact that you were married before when you met Nick, that he helped you get past that whole thing and was the shoulder you cried on and then became your next relationship and that it wasn’t so obvious at times. You broke up and got back together. There was a jump rope involved and whatever. I’m really glad that you went there and didn’t, again, sugarcoat anything. In terms of the hospital stuff, as I mentioned, I lost my mother-in-law. She was in the hospital for six weeks. I already had forgotten so much that when I read your story, I was like, oh, my gosh, I forget dialysis. The nurses and doctors, that is exactly what they would say on the phone, verbatim how you described it. I was like, this is crazy. It’s like someone took my own experience that I already kind of forgot and just put it down and reminded me. I’m so glad you did that. Tell me a little even about writing it, about living it.

Amanda: That’s one of the reasons why I’m so grateful that we kind of — again, this was me being green because I’d never written a book. HarperCollins was like, “Okay, this is your manuscript due date.” Anna was like, “This is insane, sister. Most people get a year to write a book. They’re giving us less than six months.” Now in retrospect, I couldn’t write this book now because of exactly what you just said. I wouldn’t remember all of these things. When I started writing two weeks after Nick passed, I was in Ohio. I would just start writing after I’d put Elvis down for bed, mostly because it was quiet in the house and I just wanted something to do, but also because I knew there were things that were stored in my brain. When you are in a hospital battle, and I’m sure you can attest to this, you know everything. You know the numbers, where they should be. You know the medications, where they should be. You know what the wires are. You know what the machines are. You know when he was on that machine, when he was off that machine, when they put him on a new machine, when they took him off that machine. It was just in my head. I didn’t have really anything written down because I kind of have a photographic memory in that way. I knew, there are some things I have got to start writing on a piece of paper because I don’t want to forget it. I would if I tried to write this right now. Even listening to the audiobook, I was like, damn, yeah, I remembered a lot of stuff. I’m so glad that it’s there because of that exact reason. You don’t want to forget all of those things that were a part of it, and they were. Every machine, every number, every time I sat in that room and just stare at the numbers and the ups and the downs and the medicines and the levels, that is that battle of being with your person in the hospital. Whether pandemic, not pandemic, it’s part of it as the person.

Zibby: Even your isolation as you were going through this, when I read it, I was like, that’s unconscionable that she would have to be alone with Elvis. In the beginning, for instance, after he died before people came and you could actually — it was so nice, everybody coming to your aid.

Amanda: Nobody would come. I was living on my good friend Zach Braff’s property. He wouldn’t dare, and nor should he have at that time because, hello, Nick just got a serious COVID diagnosis, so he’s not coming anywhere near me. He was devastated. He’s like, “I can’t do anything for you. You’re right there, and yet I have to literally stay completely away from you.” Nobody could get it. It was, it was devastating. I literally was just at home inside all day with a ten-month old trying to survive, talking to the hospital, raising him, working on my fitness business at the same time. It was, you’re right, unfathomable because in no other time would that ever happen.

Zibby: Crazy. It’s so crazy. When Susan died after six weeks, we were alone here because we had traveled. We had to travel down to Duke. We came back. Then we had to quarantine. I have four kids. I couldn’t see my kids. We were alone. There was no support. Kyle and his sister, of course, were just beyond devastated. I was also devastated, but she wasn’t my own mother, so I was the one who had to be making sure we ate. People would leave flowers outside of the gate on the little thing where you buzz the gate because they couldn’t come in. It was crazy. It’s so crazy looking back, how the isolation affected the grief and how it is going forward and just the trauma of the illness. I just keep going back to, what it is about — obviously, any death is horrible, and any death at a young age. There was something just so particularly awful about this and so unique to COVID that surviving it was just a — I don’t know. I don’t even have anything to say about it.

Amanda: You’re absolutely right. Now a year later, thank god, we’re in a completely different place and almost through it. I often am like, don’t forget where we were a year ago. We were still not leaving our homes, barely going anywhere. It was a completely different world even a year ago. How fast that has changed, it’s crazy.

Zibby: It’s crazy. Then, of course, it’s like, what next? I also loved how you were pivoting with your business at the same time and being an entrepreneur and figuring out a way to do it and having friends involved and really moving on to this online business and being able to rely on your happy self-care, if you will. You were doing squats in the parking lot with Elvis while he’s in the hospital. It’s amazing. At first, I was like, how on earth is she doing this? I don’t think I worked out for two months or something, but I know that’s your thing. You feel good. Tell me a little bit about even running a business throughout this whole thing.

Amanda: Running a business, I didn’t really have an option. Nick was in the hospital. He had lost his job to COVID. If he even got out of the hospital, he still wouldn’t have had a job. I was the only breadwinner. I was the only one that was making income. There was not an option for me to not work. Luckily, my job was easily put on the internet and it was something that could make money. At the time, we had, I knew, bills to pay, a mortgage to pay. We had just bought a new home. We had rent still in New York. Nick wasn’t working. We had a car payment. How are you supposed to pay your bills? It wasn’t an option to not work. Luckily, I love fitness. I love my company that I created. I love working out. It is my go-to mental health savior. It was never, oh, I wish I didn’t have to go to work. It was more so like, when do I get to film something today so that I worked so that I feel better?

Zibby: I’m glad you found your thing. It’s always so amazing. What’s happened since the end of the book? What’s the real epilogue in your life? Now I want to know everything. I’ve been on your Instagram, of course, not to be a stalker or whatever. What’s the conclusion? How do you feel even looking back? What are you doing with your life now and all of that good stuff?

Amanda: It’s crazy to think that it’s been almost a year since Nick passed. Honestly, the epilogue is still sort of exactly how it ends in the book. I’m still working every day. I’m just trying to be the best mom I can be to Elvis, building strength every day and moving forward every day because I know that’s what Nick would want me to do. Just trying to pave this new way, trying to reinvent myself yet again, which is something I’ve had to do many times in my life. It’s not anything new, but yet scary, and especially coming out of the pandemic, scary. It’s just all of that, working here at The Talk and running all the other businesses that I run, trying to find time for everything and manage that and also give myself some self-care time. It’s just all of that, just that.

Zibby: How is it going? What’s it like working at The Talk? How is that? Do you love it? Is it amazing?

Amanda: Oh, I love it. It’s been such a saving grace. It feels very much like I’m doing a Broadway show, which is what I did for seventeen years in New York. I get to drive onto this beautiful studio lot, get my hair and makeup done, put my costume on, and go out and do a show. Then that show is literally just talking to adults about fun topics, which is what I don’t get to do anymore at home because when I’m at home, it’s just me and Elvis. We talk about trash trucks or baby sharks. I feel so lucky because I have this outlet. So much of my life has been performing and entertaining and TV and film. Now I just get to do it on this other new level which I never expected to get to do, but it’s also not something that’s super far from my wheelhouse. I love it. It’s been such a joy and literally has saved me in a huge way.

Zibby: Sometimes people are like, how do you have time to do a podcast every day of the week? I’m like, this is my favorite time. Not that I don’t love my kids and my husband and my life. I’m very lucky and everything, but it’s pretty great to come in here and close the door and be like, ah, now I get to talk about someone’s emotions. I get to hear from someone who’s gone through something similar who I would never meet in the course of my daily life and who knows exactly an experience that I’ve had, or somebody totally different who’s had an experience I will never have. I get to learn about that. Interviewing is the greatest thing.

Amanda: You’re right. It’s so true. Every day, I’m meeting all of these people that I would never get the chance to meet. Because we’re on this talk show platform, everyone’s just kind of at ease. It’s crazy. One day, I’m talking to Tom Selleck. It’s like, what? He’s talking to you like it’s normal. You’re like, I know this is not normal, but thanks for talking to me like it’s normal.

Zibby: I know. That’s how I feel. For me, authors in general are like rockstars. They’re the coolest people ever. My version of Tom Selleck might be Mitch Albom. Wait, Mitch Albom is in my library now and I’m sitting here talking to him? It’s crazy.

Amanda: It’s crazy, totally.

Zibby: It is a saving grace. I do think, and I don’t know how you feel about this, that once you’ve gone through a loss or something traumatic, you’re open to human connection on a whole new level. There’s no time for the superficial anymore. I’m just going to get right to it at this point.

Amanda: It’s so true. I said that the other day when I was talking to somebody about whenever I start dating again or entering that world. It’s like, you know what, when that happens, when that time comes, I can’t deal with any — when you’ve gone through hard trauma in your life, I just want honesty. Bring me your dirty laundry. I can’t play games. I don’t have time for it. I want you to have kids. I want you to have gone through a divorce. I want you to have had a life full of life. Please come to me with lots of things happening and going on. I think it just cuts that perfection thing that we feel like we have to do. I can’t have that right now in my life.

Zibby: I totally get it. Moms don’t have time to date, right?

Amanda: No, there’s no time. You like me? Great. Let’s go out for dinner. No pleasantries needed. I don’t need pleasantries.

Zibby: My sister-in-law is single after seven years. She’s on Bumble now. I was like, “Ooh, let me see how that works.” She’s been showing me. I’m like, this is crazy. There’s a whole nother world of etiquette and all of that.

Amanda: I know. I’m not looking forward to those apps.

Zibby: I’m sure you will be fine.

Amanda: Not that I have anything against them. It’s exactly what you just said. It’s a whole new realm. I am not ready for that realm.

Zibby: On the book-writing front, what advice would you have for aspiring authors?

Amanda: I would just say, Anna and I, as first-time authors, we really just wrote. We weren’t thinking too much about what we should be doing, what typically is done, how memoirs usually are formed. We got on our vibe, on our plane, and did it our way. We had a wonderful editor who was very lenient with us and let that happen organically. I would say that would be my advice, just to do you. Don’t try to copy anything that you’ve done or you’ve seen before. Write your story. Get it on a piece of paper. I think that’s the most important part. Just start. Write your own story.

Zibby: It’s so true. I noticed, though, that you did play a lot with time and flashbacks. Is that the way it just came out as you wrote it, or did you do that later?

Amanda: We did that because that’s what I was doing on Instagram. In the midst of telling what was going on with Nick, I would start giving, I’m going to tell you guys a story about Nick. I think I called them Nick Stories. Genius. Creative title. I would share little Nick snippets of things that we did together, how we met, or funny stories about Nick. I did it just so that I could start sharing about who he was. So many people were singing his music and praying for him and supporting us every day. I just thought, maybe they want a little inside info on who they’re praying for every day. They might want to know who this man is, why he likes music, why he wrote this song. When we started writing the book, we just were like, naturally, we’ll include these flashbacks like I was doing on Instagram through the process, and then adding in more, things that I remembered and wanted to share to give even more backstory of why we were doing certain things, why I was making certain choices, why I was saying certain things to him in the hospital so that you had some substance to all of that.

Zibby: It worked really well just from a narrative standpoint. Then from the content side, I’m so glad that you preserved and took the time when you did to write it down because it’s there not just for you and Elvis and Nick, really, but for all of us to feel your pain and feel the joy you had at times and also just to keep him alive in our minds and introduce him to people who would never have met him. Now he takes mental space in my mind. How great is that that you could do that? It’s magic.

Amanda: I love that because that makes me feel like his legacy will always live on. His name will always be talked about. I think that’s a beautiful thing. Knowing Nick, he would be like, people are still talking about me? That’s cool. He would like that. He was an actor. He had an ego. We all do. I think he would enjoy that his name lives on, for sure.

Zibby: Amanda, thank you. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me. I just really appreciate it. It was really nice to chat with you.

Amanda: Thank you. So nice to meet you, Zibby.

Zibby: Bye. Take care.

Amanda: Buh-bye.

Amanda Kloots, LIVE YOUR LIFE

LIVE YOUR LIFE by Amanda Kloots

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