Check it out! We’re featured in Creative Loafing Tampa!

We staged our campsite in a local park (accidentally illegally) for a quick photo shoot (without the necessary permit). The park ranger was super nice when he realized there wasn’t any funny-business going on in the tent. Credit: Cathy Salustri (who will get a permit next time)

Just a quick post to let you know that we were honored to be approached for a story in Creative Loafing, the Tampa Bay area’s entertainment weekly (where I happen to have a column about writing and whatever else I want to spout about). We were asked to talk about how our approach to life has changed since my health issues and diagnosis with Vascular Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. I’ll be honest, I came out of my first aneurysm surgery with a feeling of elation. The grass was greener, the coffee tasted better, and the birds were singing louder. I didn’t know I about to have 6 more surgeries, and hospital checkups for life. (My euphoria also may have been a side-effect of 60mg of prednisone and lots of painkillers.) I often say that my life is better after I got sick because I appreciate everything more. I didn’t just wake up with a new aorta, but new eyes.

A doctor once told Monica that most VEDS patients usually die within a year of their first complication. (But they also don’t usually survive a Type A aortic dissection like I did.) That was more than two years ago. Why do I write about this? Why do we share? Because I want everyone to see life this way, without having to go through the same kind of adversity.

I just finished Viktor Frankl’s famous book, Man’s Search For Meaning. A survivor of the holocaust’s worst camps, Frankl went on to help millions of people through his writing and his research in psychology. I’ll paraphrase (and forgive me if I don’t nail it), but he says that we find meaning or purpose in life in three ways: 1. Through accomplishment or good deeds. Doing something meaningful. 2. Through finding love. 3. Through finding courage in the face of adversity.

If I apply Frankl’s theory to myself, I can’t say I’ve done any great work that gives me purpose. My careers were jobs. I was successful, but not fulfilled. Since I had to stop working, writing has been an amazing outlet for me. I was lucky to find the love of my life. She and the kids are truly all I need to live for. But we can also find love that gives us purpose through our friendships and community. Facing adversity gave me an appreciation for all the things I took for granted. It re-ordered my priorities and changed my attitude. And that is the biggest lesson most people learn too late.

So go read the article! If you read to the end, you’ll find out about something really cool that Monica has going on in November.

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