An interview with Felice Cohen on Kicking PD’s Ass on October 7, 2023 by George Ackerman, Ph.D, J.D.
Known nationally and internationally as the woman who lived in one of the world’s smallest apartments, Felice Cohen is the award-winning author of the bestselling books Half In: A Coming-of-Age Memoir of Forbidden Love, 90 Lessons for Living Large in 90 Square Feet (…or More), and What Papa Told Me. Felice has been featured on Good Morning America, NBC, CBS, NPR, Time, Globe & Mail, New York Daily News, the Daily Mail and more. She speaks around the country about how living tiny made her life larger and offering tips on organizing and decluttering. She also speaks about the Holocaust and her journey in writing about her grandfather’s experiences in the war. What enabled Felice to “live large” in that tiny studio is that she has been a professional organizer for over 25 years. She splits her time between NYC and Cape Cod.
Please tell me a little about your background.
I grew up in Cape Cod, graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and moved to NYC in the late 90s to become a writer. I’ve always been close to my family and writing about them and helping them has always been my passion.
Felice Reading Half In at Generation Women 2022 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4LNwaTUE60
Simple life Manhattan: a 90-square-foot microstudio https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZSdrtEqcHU&t=15s
Can you tell me more about your advocacy?
My support is directed to my father who has been battling PD for 20 years. We started making videos for fun, but then the feedback from those with PD or who are caring for those with PD encouraged my dad to keep making them. When people started responding after seeing him enjoying life while battling this disease, it motivated my dad to keep making videos. Seeing him enjoy the feedback motivated me.
What is your passion and how did you get involved in Parkinson’s awareness and hope for a cure?
My passion is for my dad to enjoy every day. For the most part he has, but there are struggles with PD that have limited some things he loves to do like cycling and painting. When he took Rock Steady (boxing classes for people with PD) a few summers ago, I went to every class with him. By the end of that first class, I was helping. A few weeks in and everyone thought I was an instructor as I helped with exercises, gave encouragement, and took videos. By the end of the summer, it was like saying goodbye to camp friends. I’ve also done walks for PD in NYC, but the real passion is in the hands on helping.
What type of goals do individuals with Parkinson’s have when seeing your advocacy?
I don’t know about goals, only from online feedback to the videos my dad and I make, and they wrote that seeing my dad doing things encourages them and brings them hope that they too, can still participate in activities they enjoy.
What effect can your advocacy have on an individual with Parkinson’s?
Hope. Encouragement. Motivation.
What events do you participate in?
Charity walks for PD, I was assisting with Rock Steady and have been considering becoming certified.
How does your advocacy also assist caregivers?
Not sure it assists, but perhaps it motivates them to get their loved ones with PD to try to be more active and participate in activities they enjoy.
How can someone get in touch? What is your website?
How can others also become advocates for awareness?
If you had one final statement or quote you could leave for the Parkinson’s community, what would it be?
Never give up. Keep fighting. One day we will “knock out” PD.