Author Anna Kloots on the Power of Travel & Journaling to Heal from Divorce: ‘I Had Lost So Much of Myself’
The sister of beloved talk show co-host Amanda Kloots shares her story in a new memoir.
Lots of young women dream of a life like the one Anna Kloots has lived: From interning at Saturday Night Live, to blogging about her life in Paris and traveling to over 83 countries. But, Kloots says, her marriage began to fall apart when she was in her mid-twenties. At that point, life changed.
After co-writing the memoir Live Your Life by her sister, Amanda Kloots, about the grief of losing Amanda’s husband Nick Cordero from COVID, Anna is now telling her own story in her new memoir, My Own Magic, which hit shelves May 16, 2023. Kloots recently spoke with The Healthy @Readers Digest about the takeaways—and the therapeutic power of getting away.
Anna Kloots on her new book, My Own Magic
courtesy Anna Kloots
The Healthy @Readers Digest: Congratulations on the release of My Own Magic. You write about marriage, your divorce, traveling and finding yourself in the process. How did you know where to start, and what inspired you to finally sit down and write this?
Anna Kloots: I started writing it first and foremost for me. I write as a form of therapy and healing and understanding what happened, and just reflecting for my own self. I always knew that I wanted to write a book. And when I started going through this and really openly sharing it, there’s such a beautiful response from my community that I didn’t expect. My life had always been very uplifting and happy to follow, and so suddenly I was sharing from a place of real pain, trauma, and grief. And people really were connecting and thanking me for sharing it and thanking me for telling my story. And it made me realize that this is important to share. There’s a power in sharing our stories and letting people know how they feel isn’t abnormal and they’re not alone in their feelings, and they’re not alone in their pain.
The Healthy: What would you want to tell people about you and your book, who are interested in reading it?
Anna Kloots: The title, My Own Magic, comes from a lot of things. It pulls on an actual moment, actual words I said, and a subtle play on the fact that I was a magician’s assistant for a while. What it really is about is finding the power that is in you, connecting with yourself and recognizing your own strength, recognizing what makes you great, giving yourself all the credit that you deserve—that we so often just glaze over—and using all of that as fuel to basically build your dream life.
Anna Kloots on writing as therapy
The Healthy: We talk a lot about mental health on the website, and journaling is all the rage these days. It’s interesting that you brought up writing as a form of therapy. How did writing about some of your darkest times, and reliving your divorce through that writing, affect you?
Anna Kloots: It gives clarity. Sometimes just putting words down on paper validates how you feel. So many things we feel, we just think in our heads and we never say out loud. Putting them down on paper let me feel those things and validated that those were real feelings that I have, and that I need to work through or deal with. The beautiful thing about memoir is that it forces you to reflect. I had lost so much of myself. And by the time my marriage ended, you are just sort of thinking, How did this happen? How did I get here? And then really looking back and writing about these moments and remembering how I felt.
I kept journals this whole time, so I had journals to go back to and look at, and reread. It really helped me cross it all and make peace with what had happened. It allowed me to be grateful for what happened instead of just focusing on the negative results, that I could see the beautiful moments alongside the really difficult ones. I could see my own growth. I could see the times I was really struggling and that I was able to work through it. That gave me confidence that I could work through future difficulties. It’s such a powerful tool.
Anna Kloots on maintaining mental wellness
courtesy Anna Kloots
The Healthy: You and your family have been through a lot over the past few years. What else have you found has helped you get through difficult times?
Anna Kloots: It’s really about counting your blessings during those dark times. That’s not always easy to do and it can sound cheesy, but you really have to take inventory of what you still have when you’re in the middle of an immense loss, and really pay attention to the beauty that is around you and the love that is surrounding you, and the people who are there supporting you and lifting you up. There are so many silver linings in the midst of a tragic moment.
Anna Kloots: Exercise is huge for me. I don’t meditate, but I am a runner and I almost find running to be meditative. There’s been a lot of times when going on a long run on my own is immensely healing.
The Healthy: You also went to couples therapy when you were struggling to save your marriage. For anyone wondering if that would help, what was your takeaway from your couple’s therapy experience?
Anna Kloots: I say it saved my life, honestly. I understand there can be this negative stigma around it, so I understand why people are hesitant or why it might seem like a last resort and something you don’t want to do. You don’t want to get to that point. I actually went into it very excited—as you see in my book, I’m like, This is amazing. This is going to help us. The way I look at it is we practice and actively work at anything else that we love and enjoy. If you love dance, you take lessons. If you want to play music, you take lessons. You seek out someone who can help you and teach you things, and teach you strategies to get better at anything we’re doing. And for me, therapy is the same for relationships. I wish I could go to therapy with everyone I know!
Anna Kloots on travel
courtesy Anna Kloots
The Healthy: You write about many of your incredible travels over 80 countries. What have you learned from other parts of the world about balance and being healthy?
Anna Kloots: When I moved to France and all the times I was traveling in Europe, it just taught me to slow down. I was living in New York for 12 years, and just the pace there is crazy. You are always trying to fit 1,000 things into the day and doing a million things, and going a million places.
Living in Europe just taught me to slow down and take a bit more time to do everything, to not feel guilty if I don’t get everything done in one day, to sit and enjoy a little bit more than always be constantly rushing around. A lot of my travels early just taught me that I really love the unknown.
The Healthy: What are some of your best travel tips?
Anna Kloots: I think the biggest tip I would give someone is not to over-plan their trip. I see so many people who go into a vacation with every second already planned, binders printed out of a day by day, hour by hour agenda. And to me, so much of the beauty of travel has been just getting lost in a place, figuring it out my own, listening to my own senses, and letting my own desires and passion lead the direction of my day, and allowing myself time to get caught up in something. When you have too much of an agenda you’re sticking to, I think it can actually get in the way of you properly experiencing the place.
The Healthy: What is the self-care practice you refuse to skip?
Anna Kloots: This might sound kooky, but my self-care is the minute I wake up, I put on music. It’s usually ABBA, but it’s fun, uplifting dance music. I have this vintage radio in my living room and I wake up, and while the coffee brews I put on music. I play it really loud and I dance around the living room while I make my coffee. And it’s just instantly energizing. It instantly makes me happy. It instantly spikes up my energy, and endorphins, and just sets the tone for the day of feeling alive, feeling grateful, and feeling positive.
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