Cathy Cassata: Freelance Writer

My NativeAdVantage:


Cathy Cassata is a freelance writer who covers health, mental health and human behavior. She is a regular contributor to the websites Healthline and Everyday Health, in which she writes health-related news, inspiring stories and feature articles. She also writes for the website The Fix about addictions, mental health, forms of therapy, and sober living. Cathy has a knack for writing with emotion and connecting with readers in an insightful and engaging way.

What do I do best?

I have a knack for listening to others and truly putting myself in their shoes. Empathy not only drives how I live my personal life, but also carries over into my writing style. I always aim to ask interviewees thought-provoking questions in a way that makes them comfortable and willing to express their emotions and feelings about a particular topic. From their responses, I'm am able to craft stories that readers can relate to no matter the subject.

What makes me the best version of myself?

Persistency, positivity, patience and passion.

I didn't go into writing thinking it would be easy to succeed at or make a living out of, but I rejected the notion that I should have a backup plan like getting a degree in education in case I failed at writing. I started writing poetry when I was 11 years old. My first two poems were about jealousy and the afterlife. I'm not sure why I chose those topics, but I vividly remember sitting at my parent's kitchen table writing in a spiralbound notebook, erasing and re-writing words over and over again until the poems were exactly how I wanted them to be. When I showed them to my Mom, she said, "I can tell you really like writing." The gratification from putting thoughts and feelings on paper is something I remind myself about every time freelancing gets tough.

At one point early on in my freelance career, I wrote about menopause, not the sexiest topic, but I knew I could learn something and that the stories would help someone. I also knew that each story I wrote no matter the topic would lead to another opportunity.

What are my aspirations?

To nourish and maintain connections with those closest to me, including my husband, children, family and friends. The people in my life are what fulfill me most, and I treasure each relationship.

Professionally, I hope to continue to write stories that inspire and inform others. I believe there's a reason for everything, and I love uncovering those reasons through researching and writing. That's why I'm into writing about science, health, mental health, and human behavior. As an eternal optimist, the stories that really get me, though, are those of triumph. That triumph can be small or big. We all have to live with challenges, loss and the unexpected life throws at us, so sharing stories about how others make it is something we can all benefit from.

My Biggest Success?

Becoming a mother to my son and daughter is hands down my biggest success. There is nothing more precious to me than human connection and doing so with my children is something I could never top.

Professionally, making my way as a freelance writer is my biggest success. After I graduated from college with English Writing and Political Science degrees, I landed an editing job with a medical association. During my eight years working there, I performed a lot of editing, proofreading and project management tasks. In my gut and with encouragement from my boss, I learned that writing was really my strength. When I left the association and started freelancing, I took editing, proofreading and writing jobs because I needed to make a living, but my heart was always in writing. For the past five years, I've been able to solely take writing projects. For me, that's success.

My Most Challenging Moment?

Saying goodbye to my father and finding peace with that.

I lost my dad to diabetes four years after losing my mom to breast cancer. They were both in their 60s when they passed away. At the end of my dad's life, he brought big perspective. I wrote about it in a story that Healthline published last year. Here's an excerpt.

I was constantly asking him if he needed anything and if he was OK. He interrupted me, and said, "Listen. You, your sister, and your brother will be OK, right?"

He repeated the question a few times with a look of desperation on his face. In that moment, I realized that being uncomfortable and facing death weren’t his concerns. What was most terrifying to him was leaving behind his children — even though we were adults — without any parents to watch over them.

Suddenly, I understood that what he needed most wasn't for me to make sure he was comfortable, but for me to reassure him that we would live on as usual after he was gone. That we wouldn't allow his death to keep us from living our lives to the fullest. That, despite life's challenges, whether war or disease or loss, we would follow his and our mom's lead and continue to care for our children the best we knew how. That we'd be grateful for life and love. That we'd find humor in all situations, even the darkest ones. That we'd fight through all of life's B.S. together.

That's when I decided to drop the "Are you OK?" talk, and summoned the courage to say, "Yes, Dad. We'll all be fine."

As a peaceful look took over his face, I continued, "You taught us how to be. It's OK to let go now."

My Motto?

Maya Angelou's quote: “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

My Favorite People/Role Models?

My husband and kids and family and friends are my favorite people, no doubt.

In the world of writing, David Sedaris is my favorite. His observations about people are wonderful and his ability to tell somewhat dark stories with humor is brilliant. I laugh out loud and sometimes cringe at the same time when I read his material. That's my kind of entertainment.

I'm also a huge fan of Oprah. I enjoy the topics she covers and interviews she conducts. My favorite pastime/me-time is reading O Magazine while drinking a cup of tea.

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

I know it's not adventurous since I'm a few miles away, but Chicago is a great city. Next to that, Galway, Ireland blew me away with its beauty and charm.

My Favorite Products/Objects?

Keurig, Roku, MyFitnessPal.

My Current Passions?

The last few months I've been on a mission to eat healthy and exercise more. All the inspiring people I've interviewed over the past year have motivated me to get myself to a place where I feel my best. I'm starting to see results and that's encouraging.

Also, my daughter recently took up drums, one of my best friends has gotten into boxing, and my brother-in-law is in the midst of working out 100 days in a row. Seeing them all find a new passion, has empowered me to go back to mine. I plan to start writing poetry again—something that's been nudging at me for a while now.