Susan J. Mecca, Ph.D.
The Gift of Crisis: Finding your best self in the worst of times
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What is your book about?
The Gift of Crisis is about how we can find our way through the hardest, most challenging times of our lives and emerge stronger, even wiser than before. The practical strategies and suggestions come from current research on resilience, gratitude, and post-traumatic growth as well as my clinical experience. The real-life stories of struggle and triumph over unimaginably difficult times bring hope and inspiration for readers going through their own crises.
What inspired you to write your book?
Several years ago, within the space of seven months, my sixteen-year-old son was diagnosed with cancer and my husband was hospitalized with Guillain Barre Syndrome for over nine months. While my son was still going through cancer treatment, my husband, barely walking again after months of rehabilitation therapy, was diagnosed with cancer as well. Within a year of my husband’s cancer diagnosis, he was dead.
Everything I knew about navigating through a serious crisis became intensely personal as I became the patient advocate, medical warrior, and holder of hope for my son and husband. Writing about my experience and what I had learned was the way that I made both sense of the journey and found a way to turn my crisis into something positive.
Can you describe your writing process?
As someone who suffers from DEBSO (Distracted Easily By Shiny Objects) and can find endless ways to be “alternatively productive” (when you don’t do what you set out to do but accomplish something else), I find that setting a timer is my best strategy. Somehow, deep within my procrastinating, perfectionist soul, there is a kid who loves to beat the timer. Getting as much done (“a sh*tty first draft” as Anne Lamott and others suggest) before the timer goes off helps me leap (or stumble) past those obstacles.
How did you come to do what you’re doing today?
Writing and taking care of others were my earliest career passions. I began writing at age 8 and continued to write stories, start novels, and produce uninspiring poetry throughout my school years. However, my life ambition, from age 13, was to be a glamorous, jet-setting, internationally based flight attendant. When my plan didn’t work, I took my dad’s advice and returned to school for a graduate degree in Business Administration.
MBA in hand, I pursued a brief 7-year career as a human resources professional before returning to school, once again, to follow another passion—psychology. It was there that all of my interests came together—my ability to write concise and accurate papers, my desire to help others navigate through hard times, and my understanding of the business world. I was even able to travel the world, conducting leadership and communication workshops.
When the crises in my family became overwhelming, I returned to writing to process, understand, and move forward from the fears and anxieties that I was facing. As my career has continued, I find that sharing my experiences and wisdom via writing, speaking, and through workshops is a source of enjoyment for me.
Can you describe a typical day in your life?
I keep trying to create a typical day for myself but think that it’s not in my nature to do so. My days all contain elements of productivity, slothfulness, and connection, along with spots of drudgery.
What do you most enjoy about what you do?
Hearing that what I have written is helpful to other people.
Are there any people and/or books that have inspired you along your journey?
The books and wisdom of Elizabeth Lesser, Anne Lamott, Viktor Frankl, and Glennon Doyle come to mind, as well as the counsel and advice of some amazingly generous colleagues.
Can you share something that people may be surprised to learn about you?
I love to read magical fantasy—particularly stories about women who learn to embrace their power(s).
What’s next for you?
I am producing workshops on Crisis Navigation and Growth Under Pressure as well as beginning to do more speaking engagements. Somewhere, lurking in the background, is a fictional murder mystery series waiting to be written about a psychologist who becomes psychic!
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I am truly grateful for all of the assistance that NFAA offers as well as the generosity of spirit that I have found in this community. Oh, and, my son is healthy and pursuing a master’s degree in psychology at Texas State University.
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