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On the Spotlight: ‘My Mother My Child,’ by Susie Kinslow Adams

mymothermychild-187x300Title: My Mother My Child

Genre: Non Fiction Self Help

Author: Susie Kinslow Adams


Publisher: Write By The Sea Press

Purchase on Amazon

About the Book

My Mother My Child is an easy-to-read heartfelt story of caregiving filled with practical helps and resources for every family. Thought-provoking questions at the end of each chapter are suitable for individual or group study.


Author, Susie Kinslow Adams

Chapter 1, with Discussion Guide 

Miracles, Moves, and Mother

My mother always held a special place in my heart. She had made the best of a very rough life. Mother worked hard and seldom complained about anything, although there was much opportunity to do so. During the years I lived by Mother, especially after Dad died, we would spend time going out to eat or visiting some beautiful scenic place not too far from home. One of my fondest memories is of the two of us sitting on her front porch enjoying soft breezes and crisp morning air.

“How could anyone ever look out at God’s creation and not know He is real?” she would ask. Then she would continue to elaborate on the beauty of her surroundings. An outsider driving by would see shabby yards and small homes in need of major repair and probably complain at the rough streets. My mother could see good neighbors and beautiful flowers among the weeds. She was thankful for her comfortable home and the reliability of her very old automobile parked out front.

Mother had a sharp mind and a quick wit. She was ready with an answer for any problem one might have (and quite sure hers was the only answer to consider). Her tiny home was clean and orderly; you could count on a good pot of stew and cornbread when you stopped by for a visit.

After Russell and I moved away, I especially looked forward to coming back home to those familiar sights and sounds and hearty welcome from someone who dearly loved me. During the ten years we were in California, my visits were short and too far apart. However, I never worried about Mother’s well-being because she was active in a good church, a Bible study group, and had several other widowed friends with whom to socialize. On the surface she seemed quite self sufficient.

I never noticed when she got old and weary; when she quit caring for her little home and herself as she once did. When I began to realize how terribly unclean her house was, I attributed it to her being too busy to keep it up. One year I made a planned trip home without Russell. I thought if I could thoroughly clean her house for her, she would be able to keep it clean. I know how it is when you get so far behind it seems impossible to catch up. As I began to clean Mother’s home one evening, my cleaning stopped abruptly when I was told, “This house is clean enough for me. If it is not clean enough for you, you can just go home!” Ouch!

I must admit, I think my focus was more on the unclean house than on why my mother would let it get that way. What was happening to her? Could I have done something to help her then? Perhaps get some help in each week or check with her doctor concerning her over all health and her medications? But my visit was short; whatever I could do in a week’s time would not make much of a difference in the over all picture.

The day before I was to head back to California, I drove Mother to the store in her old but faithful car. As we neared home, we were stopped by the police. He announced “my” tags were expired. After learning I was driving Mother’s car, he asked for her driver’s license and registration. When she couldn’t seem to find her license, the officer graciously told us to go straight home and park the car. Back home we searched the unending piles of mail and papers on her tables and found only an expired license. Wanting to help, I took Mother to take a test and get her license renewed only to learn she had lost her license due to too many traffic tickets. No driver’s license, no tags, and no insurance, yet she was still driving her car all over town.

Something wasn’t right but I had a plane to catch in the morning. What could I do at this point? How could I help her? Should I alert church friends, neighbors, and the police? If I took her car keys, she would find another set or have copies made. Anything I could have done would simply be a temporary fix until I got out of town when she would do as she pleased anyway. My heart ached as I thought of leaving. How helpless I felt.

My heart and mind were eased somewhat knowing my cousin Penny checked on Mother every few days to make sure she was okay. Penny would take Mother back home with her when she could coax her into it. While there, Penny would trim her nails, wash her hair, and stuff her full of good food and special treats. Mother enjoyed those times, but she soon pressed to get back to her own home.

One time when Penny was visiting family on the west coast, she had a persistent feeling she should come home early from her trip. Those urgings became so overwhelming that she had her flight changed and returned to Missouri a week early. She immediately called Mother and was relieved to hear her familiar happy voice assuring Penny she was okay. In fact, Mother had a Bible study planned the next day at her house, and had been very busy with all the preparations.

The following evening Penny was not too alarmed when Mother didn’t answer her phone. “Perhaps,” she thought, “Aunt Nevie has just gone to the store for something.” However, when there was no response the second day, Penny was on Mother’s doorstep. Unlocking the door, she found Mother on the floor, somewhat dehydrated.

Apparently, after the Bible study group had left, Mother sat down to rest on a low sofa instead of her usual recliner. She was short, quite heavy, and not as agile as she had thought. Realizing she could not get up from the couch on her own, Mother slid onto the floor. She was sure she would then be able turn around facing the couch and pull herself up. Once on the floor though, she had neither the strength nor the mobility to get up on her own.

“Aunt Nevie, why didn’t you call someone when you couldn’t get up by yourself?”

“I would have called if I needed help. I was going to get up soon.” In her mind, all she needed to do was rest a spell and try again. Eventually, she reasoned, she would be able to get up from the floor.

What would have happened if no one had checked on her? Suppose Penny had not followed the persistent tug of her heart to return home early? Did God bring Penny back home at just the right time to help her Aunt Nevie? She is convinced He did, and so am I.

A few months later Russell was called as Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Fair Play, Missouri and we moved back home. A few weeks after our move, Penny brought Mother to visit us and we would again see God’s timing. During her stay with us, Mother became suddenly ill, was hospitalized for the first time, and our lives changed forever. For eight years I would be the primary caregiver for my mother and, although I didn’t realize it then, would watch her slip into what we often call “second childhood.” Some of those years Mother communicated normally and was up and around even fixing her own lunch. Other times she would not be able to walk without help or carry on a conversation.

Mother’s life, too, changed drastically. She found herself living with her children in a strange new house and in a town she couldn’t locate on the map. Everyone who came in and out of the house was a stranger to her. Gone were the days of getting a hamburger with old friends after Bible study. Gone was her freedom to go anywhere by herself or pick up the phone and call a neighbor to come over. Only in looking back now do I recognize how very, very different life had become for Mother as well as for Russell and me.

Growing up, our home was pleasant, comfortable, and full of love, yet boundaries were clearly marked. Dad, Richard and I never pried into Mother’s affairs. As an adult, I knew a few details concerning where certain papers were kept should they be needed. Asking for more information was sure to bring a clear sign it was none of my business. Discussing Mother’s financial well-being was clearly out of the question.

Have you watched children raiding Mom or Grandma’s purse for candy or gum? I’ve seen all ages, even dads, digging through a woman’s purse looking for something they needed or wanted. Not so with Mother’s generation. You did not raid Mother’s purse; you didn’t pick it up or look as though you were going to touch it. Her purse contained personal belongings and was not for anyone, not even her husband, to explore.

When I began to accept the fact Mother was not stable mentally, I knew it was up to me determine where she was financially. Late one night, after she had gone to bed, I took her purse into my bedroom, closed the door and held it to my chest. I felt like a criminal getting ready to rob someone. I was betraying my own mother by going through her personal belongings. It is difficult to explain the trauma of such a seemingly small task. Any time I considered approaching her about her finances, old fears of the past would rise up. I would picture her telling me to mind my own business. Here I was now with kids and grandkids of my own, still afraid of the wrath of Momma. It took nearly an hour for me to open her purse.

Those feelings of betrayal surfaced again when I had to explain to Mom the need for me to be on her checking account. I had to be able to purchase her medicines and pay her doctor and her household expenses until she could return to her home. To my surprise, the changes were made easily with smiles of approval from Mother. God was taking care of the situation again! In the beginning, I kept Mother’s purse by her chair and ask her to give me the checkbook when I needed it, making sure to tell her what I paid for with the check. It was important she have plenty of cash in her wallet so she had access to spending money and feel in control of her finances. She was proud to offer to pay for lunch when we were taking her to the doctor, or to be able to buy from kids who came by selling their wares. I’m sure she did not understand everything, but having cash on hand seemed to make her feel secure, more independent and a real part of the decision making process. How difficult it must be on adults when they begin to realize they are no longer responsible enough to handle their affairs.

Russell and I talked at length about Mother’s care. We both agreed from the very first she would be in our home as long as we could care for her no matter what it cost in time, money, or personal convenience. Putting her in a nursing home was not an option for us unless we were convinced it would be in her best interest.

During Mother’s first hospital stay, many decisions had to be made quickly. A caring nurse helped Mother understand the importance of being prepared for these occasions, and encouraged her to sign papers appointing me as her power of attorney in health care matters. By slowly and carefully going over each option, Mother was able to make good choices on her own about what she wanted done in each situation. This step became even more beneficial as time went on and decisions became more immediate and increasingly critical.

I feel it is necessary to note here the importance of each family member making those end-of-life decisions as early as possible before emotions get in the way. If we had delayed taking action much longer, Mother would not have had the presence of mind to make those important choices. Without a Durable Power of Attorney and Health Care Directive, it would have been difficult if not impossible to determine her wishes. Even though we had to evaluate our decisions constantly to meet her ever-changing situation, a clear understanding of her desires was invaluable.

We must be prepared for unexpected events which can change our lives drastically regardless of our age or our circumstances. When Mother closed her front door to go on what she assumed would be a short visit out of town, she could not have known she would never return to her little home. In a matter of time her two children would be making decisions concerning her home and belongings she could no longer make for herself. I was thankful I could legally take care of her financial and business matters. This in itself did much to free my attention to focus on her health and personal needs.

Russell and I and my brother, Richard, continually discussed options available and kept communications open so there were no surprises later. I felt it very important my brother review her finances periodically so he would know exactly where every penny of Mother’s money was being used. He did not see the necessity, but it gave me peace of mind. I never did get comfortable making decisions about her money.

As time passed, it became apparent my mother would not be going back to her home. Being her only daughter, it became my responsibility to determine what to do with her belongings. Her home was a couple of hours away so I packed a suitcase and headed for Webb City. Those days alone in her home remain some of the most difficult of my life. Each room and every piece of furniture held memories of better days. Drawers and cabinets were packed with “stuff.” Treasures once important to Mother were now meaningless items to store or dispose of so the house could be rented or sold. When I realized I could not take time to sort each paper, I dumped drawers and boxes of papers into large trash bags to bring home. Later, as time permitted, I could filter out the important papers, if any, and discard the rest.

In the years since I cleaned out Mother’s house, we have taken inventory of our own home. We sorted and disposed of boxes full of papers and things which would mean absolutely nothing to our children. At one point, I even sorted my cabinets and kitchen drawers. Any item we were not currently using was put in a box for some agency helping the needy in our community. Together, Russell and I made lists of important papers and where they were stored. We insisted our two boys sit down with us and listen as we told them of our insurance policies and where to find them. We also told them of our prepaid burial policies and where they were. The boys, of course, did not want to consider these issues, but it was very important they become informed should something happen to one or both of us.

When Mother finally did come home to live with us, food preparation was a big hurdle for me. She had been an extraordinary cook, serving as head chef for many years in a fine restaurant. She could make banquets from meager supplies. Now I would be preparing all of her meals. Would she like what I fixed? Would I cook everything right? Did I know enough about what she needed to eat to do a good job of planning? I would soon learn no matter what I prepared, she would practically inhale it to the last crumb, and we would all be healthier as a result of my wiser food choices.

It seemed every part of Mother’s life was changing overnight. Her pretty blouses and slacks gave way to loose-fitting dresses or robes. It was much easier for her to slip a dress over her head than to put on pants. Like a child, there were days when her clothes had to be changed three or four times. Each time I was given a choice between frustration and fun; I chose fun.

Finding clothing to fit her short, wide frame without falling off her narrow shoulders was a challenge. I am so thankful for mail order catalogs, the internet shopping venues, and an old Montgomery Ward store. I bought her the most colorful clothing I could find. Using lacy nightgowns as a slip, I matched them with simple polyester house dresses.

“You is a beautiful girl, Mommy!”

She would giggle and reply as I changed her garment, “I is a beautiful girl.”

“You is a soggy girl, too!”

“Is I?”

“You is, but I loves you anyway.”

“Me, too!”

As far back as I can remember, Mother had difficulty finding good fitting shoes for her swollen ankles and feet. For the first several years, I had to buy men’s bedroom slippers to get the width she needed. Additional care had to be taken that any foot wear not have slippery soles on them. Her slippers, like everything else she wore, had to be washable because, as I told her, she “leaked.”

As she lost weight, her feet and ankles slimmed also. How exciting it was to shop for pretty ballerina slippers to match her colorful dresses. What joy to watch her hold her feet up and smile at her new shoes and slim ankles; like a little girl with her first pair of dress shoes.

Mother found it difficult to lift her short, heavy legs up into the bed on her own so we devised a system to help her. While sitting on the bed, she would put both her feet on a footstool which Russell had shortened for this purpose. Slowly and carefully I would raise her legs and guide them onto the bed as she gradually reclined. As long as she had strength to help me, I did very little actual lifting myself. With a little encouragement and direction, it was amazing what she was able to accomplish.

My concern that Mother would be lonely in her new surroundings was an entirely misguided concern. Without our asking, ladies from our church began visiting Mother, whether or not we were home. Returning one day to find a fresh bouquet of flowers on her table, I questioned her about the company she had while we were out.

“No one was here,” she replied.

“No one? Who brought those beautiful flowers?”

“They were just here.”

As the mother I knew began to disappear, new challenges surfaced constantly as Russell and I adjusted our lives to her changing condition. One of the more difficult things for me to reconcile was the fact getting help meant people would be in and out of our home throughout the week. I enjoyed company; those who would sit and visit or maybe eat a little something, and go home. I was not comfortable at first with people coming in and wandering throughout our home, but I knew it was necessary for the well being of our entire family.

When neighbors, Jessie and Wilus Ahart, learned we were caring for Mother, Jessie offered to stay with her one day a week and other times as needed. She was even willing to stay overnight so we could go to a retreat to get away. This took much pressure off when we needed to get home later. We could call Jessie to come over and pull the blinds, close the door, turn up the heat or whatever was needed. Whether it was a sudden storm approaching or an uneasiness she sensed, she checked on Mother as though caring for her own family. She grew to love Mother right away; it showed in the way she cared for her. Jessie loved to quote the Bible and talk about the Lord. This seemed to please Mother. Often we would come home to find the two of them watching a gospel music video together.

“We’ve had the best visit,” Jessie would say. “We’ve been talking about Heaven, haven’t we, Geneva? And we are going there, aren’t we?” Momma would smile and nod in agreement. Clearly this was a mutual admiration between the two as well as a welcomed respite for a weary caregiver.

Those four years at Fair Play were challenging as we constantly faced new obstacles in Mother’s care. Physically she would go back and forth from being strong and walking on her own to not being able to get out of her chair without help. At one point a nurse had to come every day to care for Mother’s swollen legs. They were so full of fluid they had to be wrapped daily. Open wounds would redden and weep. We wondered if she would ever be able to walk on them again. With good care and her own resilience, she was soon able to move from room to room with the aid of her walker.

Personal care was a hard issue for me to deal with. Since my children were ten and eleven when I became their mother, I had never cared for a baby or small child. I had no skills in that area, and the thought of bathing my mother and caring for her was difficult to comprehend. Oh, I wanted to do it, I just didn’t know how. Perhaps this will sound silly to folks who have raised little ones, but for me, bathing Mother was monumental.

At first, Mother seemed to be caring for herself pretty well although needing help with personal care was inevitable. I dreaded confronting her with the possibility of me helping her. I was relieved when the doctor ordered a bath aide to come out three times a week.

Mary Long was our first experience with a regularly scheduled bath aide. Right away I knew she would be good for Mother. Watching Mary pamper Mom as she bathed her was a comfort to this worried daughter. Mother’s communication skills were very good when Mary first came to care for her, so they had ample opportunity to get acquainted. They shared about their families and their likes and dislikes. By the time Mother had quit talking Mary had developed a loving relationship with her. I learned so much about how to care for my mother from Mary. I’m convinced her good care and what she taught us kept Mom from having any bedsores or serious skin problems at home.

When Russell resigned from the church in Fair Play, this meant moving out of the church parsonage. Finding a home within driving distance of Mother’s doctor became a priority. Convinced our finances were such we could not consider purchasing a newer home, we began our search by looking for a reasonably priced fixer-upper. We soon realized those homes “needing a little repair” in our price range generally needed a demolition crew.

Our search was both fun and challenging as we considered what would be comfortable and convenient for Mother and at the same time meet our personal needs. After looking a few weeks, we were thrilled to find the home we were sure, beyond any doubt, God had saved solely for us. The things we had wanted were all there: big picture window, large room for Mom, extra bathroom, front and back porches and trees in the yard. What we had not expected to get were extra wide doorways which would easily accommodate her wheelchair, access to the home without steps to deal with, a fireplace, an oversized shower with easy access in her bathroom, a huge walk-in closet in her area, an eat-in kitchen, a big dining room, and an acre of ground surrounded by fields and woods. Only God could know how important every one of these things would be as we faced another four years with Mom. And God knew we would not have time to remodel anything.

March 29, 2000, my calendar says “Move everything possible today.” That means Momma, too. How were we actually going to be able to get all this done without added stress on her? We described our new home and encouraged her to help us decide what we should take with us. We even asked her opinion on the pictures and furniture we should keep, all the while knowing she wouldn’t remember. We decided to sell most of what we had in a garage sale and replace only what we needed in the new house.

Down came all the pictures from the walls. Chairs, tables, and accessories were quickly moved out as they were sold. At the same time we were moving boxes of personal items into our new home. Finally, the only thing left in the church parsonage was Mother sitting alone in her wheelchair in a big, empty room with nothing but a small borrowed television set in one corner.

“Mommy, where is all our stuff? You look kind of lonesome there all by yourself in this big old room.” I wondered what she was thinking as she slowly smiled at me.

“Do you think we ought to move you, too? Shall I call for the transportation van to take you to our new home?” Her wide familiar grin and nodding head told me she was ready to go anywhere with us. Someone who doesn’t comprehend what is being said or is not able to retain information needs things repeated again and again. We described our new town and home so many times we tired of the telling. However, it seemed to help Mother feel part of the move and comfortable with the strange activity around her. I never ever wanted her to feel like she was an added-on part of our family or in any way a burden to us.

Watching Mother’s eyes light up as she was unloaded in Buffalo was all the assurance I needed that she would be fine with the move. Thinking she would be tired from the trip, I started to wheel her into her new bedroom, but she had other ideas. She wanted to see the entire house, into every room and through every doorway. When she had explored everything to her satisfaction, she was content to settle down in her own room for a much-needed nap.

My greatest fear in the move was losing our dear helpers, Mary and Jessie. Miraculously, God had worked this dilemma out as well. One day while still in the old house, Mary came in with the saddest look on her face. She told us most of her work would now be in Dallas County; Mother was actually her last client in Polk County. At the time we had been dreading the thoughts of telling Mary of our move, she had been hesitant to tell us she could no longer come to Fair Play. What joy to say, “Mary, we are moving to Dallas County, too!”

When Jessie and Wilus heard about our new home, they were actually excited. Jessie said, “Buffalo is only a good forty-five minute trip for us. We will look forward to the drive to the country. Call us anytime you need help.” Wow! They were happy! We were happy! Mom was still in good care! And God had again proven to be faithful far beyond my wildest dreams!

Three months after we moved, Russell was called as Director of Missions of the Dallas County Association of Southern Baptists. Retirement was short-lived and we were on a new journey. And, so was Mother. Little did we know what an adventure it would be for each of us; especially how good it would be for her. She would get more attention and love than ever, and we would come to know more than we ever wanted about caring for the elderly and the truths of what we call second childhood.

#1 Miracles, Moves, and Mother


  1. Why should the mother’s unkempt home and vehicle problems have been red flags revealing a deeper need? What are some reasons family members may ignore these signs of pending problems with a loved one?
  2. If you are living away from parents or elderly loved ones, how are their needs being met? In what ways can you become better informed of their circumstances?
  3. Even though Susie did not live in the same state as her mother, what could have been done to get help? What are some specific resources for the elderly in your state?
  4. Have you discussed care for aging parents with siblings or others? What options are available to you? Why is it important to include the parent in these discussions?

About the Author


Susie Kinslow Adams is a wife, mother, and grandmother whose earliest memories are of caring for grandparents and offering hugs and hope to shy or struggling classmates. Her work alongside her husband in ministry has provided years of experience with groups and individuals from children to senior adults. Susie is a gifted author, writer, speaker and storyteller. She and her husband have a country home in the Ozarks and enjoy the wonders of nature.

First Chapter Reveal: Semi-Coma: Evolution of My Intermittent Consciousness by Gulten Dye

Semi-ComaTitle: Semi-Coma: Evolution of My Intermittent Consciousness
Author: Gulten Dye
Publisher: Gulten Dye Publishing Company
Pages: 205
Language: English
Genre: Self-Help
Format: Paperback & eBook

Purchase at AMAZON

This book is about self-discovery and the journey that awakened me to the many facets of life. The road hasn’t always been easy with its tolls and junctions. It’s about my struggle to discover who I really am, what I believe in and how I’ve arrived at a place where I am able to appreciate myself and my surroundings.

Most of my life I lived in a state of arrested consciousness without being aware of it. Then one day out of nowhere my eyes opened just enough for me to question my way of living and my state of mind. That was the day questions started to arrive. They were nothing like the questions I had before. As if they weren’t even questions they were an unraveling string of realizations followed by overwhelming sorrow. How could I have lived my life as if I was in a semi coma and in turn induce my own suffering?

Of course in the beginning of seeing I didn’t realize that my eyes would open slightly from time to time to give me an illusion of happiness, but because I had no idea what true happiness was I would drift back to my state of familiarity. I lived my life mostly on an automatic life-sustaining machine by my body without my mind interfering with it.

It is my hope that the stories I share with you will somehow touch your heart, perhaps crack open a door and shine a light for you to embark on your own quest of self-discovery. I don’t presume to have all the answers; I don’t even know all the questions. At the very least, I am seeking to understand and allow life to happen; learning to take responsibility and ownership of myself and my actions, and appreciating all that is.

Read the chapters, each on its own. As you move through them, you will uncover my intermittent consciousness as I explore my thoughts or beliefs and might be able to even get a glimpse of my evolution along the way.

I am blessed to have had so many people touch my life and, knowingly or unknowingly, helped me on my journey. I have come to realize that because we are all one, that anything I come to know and am willing to share with others affects all of us in a positive way. With great humility, I open up my imperfect, yet perfect, life for you to walk beside me. I am forever grateful and honored.

First Chapter:

Clinical rotations started during the second year in nursing school. As you can imagine, after being in school for a year and not even seeing the inside of the hospital other than the morgue, was boring and seemed like a waste of time for a nursing student who chose her profession to be around the patients. Who needs microbiology when you can be in the middle of the action, in the hospital with patients?

Although we had a few boys in our lab technician division, our mostly female boarding school was kind of exciting, especially when we lined up in front of the school bus in our uniforms to go to the hospital. There were thirty-five girls, who were divided into groups of seven in my class. One of the criteria for graduation was that we all had to rotate to every clinic in the hospital over a three-year span.

Nursing student uniforms are definitely different than the all so exotic nurses’ uniforms. Our pale blue, cotton, short sleeved, tent-like dress buttoned all the way up to our chin. We always had to wear white stockings, white shoes and a white cap. We had to put our hair in a bun under our cap and were not allowed to have long nails, make-up or any jewelry.

In the winter, we wore a long, dark blue cape to stay warm. All in all, I think that our uniforms were designed on purpose to make even the most beautiful girl unattractive. But no matter what we were wearing, we all thought we were all that at the time.

First rotations consisted of behind-the-scene things like, diagnostic and research labs, allergy and immunization clinics, and home health. One of my personal favorites was home health. That was when one of our teachers would take us to visit families in mostly lower income neighborhoods. We would teach them about birth control, childcare and the importance of having regular check-ups.

Since they knew of our visit, it was customary in Turkey to “force feed” anyone who dared to pass by your home, and we were always fed delicious food. Our visits were always in the afternoon, and like the English, we love our hot tea, pastries, tea biscuits and cookies. It was these that we were mostly served. At times, someone would really go out of their way and feed us traditional foods, which were heavenly.

Even with all the food I loved eating, I didn’t want to teach home health. I grew up doing most of that with my mother. She was a midwife nurse, and besides delivering babies, one of her many job descriptions was to teach home health, and I often tagged along with her. My job as a child was to help Mom do all that.

I wanted to go to the hospital where the patients were, or so I thought at the time, anyway. But, then again, those rotations which lasted 3 months were still much more exciting than being stuck in a classroom all day long.

Besides being in the huge university hospital, no matter what clinic we had to go to was beyond anything I had known up to this point. Each clinic was like a small city unto itself, housing several buildings, each several stories high.

There wasn’t a day that went by that I personally didn’t experience or live drama through the stories of other students. Each night after mandatory study sessions, we would gather on our beds and share mind-blowing stories until our mandated bedtime.

Although it did not become clear to me until years later, there was no emotional attachment to the labs, morgues or in teaching home health. Personally, as long as I didn’t come into contact with a patient in human form, it was easier for me to deal with anything that had to do with paperwork.

It felt somewhat unreal to find cancer cells with a microscope in someone’s blood in a lab and then be the one to document on a piece of paper their unfortunate fate. It was as if it were a game, not reality. But it was quite different to hear the news of someone you only met once that he has cancer. No matter how interesting it was to be in the lab and to search for diseased cells, it still wasn’t my cup of tea.

As the rotations continued, I remember moments that had rendered me speechless. One such moment was when I saw a dead body for the first time. It was shocking! It was even more shocking to cut with a blade on a dead body, all in the name of science.

When a patient I got to know passed away, I felt deep grief. Early on, I somewhat understood that getting to know the patients wasn’t a brilliant idea. I don’t think anyone intentionally wanted us to learn any life lessons; rather, overall, going to the clinics was designed to make us mechanical caretakers of the body, and its needs.

But you would have to be dead inside not to be affected by what goes on in human lives in and around the hospitals. I stared straight into the fearful eyes of people who were in intense pain…people who looked at me, deep into my eyes, with a need for compassion. Some even reached to grab my hand to ask for mercy to stop their pain and misery. At the time of its happening, I didn’t pay attention to my real emotions or the attached lessons since I was pretending to be very strong. They surfaced years later.

But, let’s get real! Of course, we were all affected from such a dramatic work place! After those rotations, often a student would drop out of school since it was hard for most to handle such things on a daily basis. Unlike most work places, mine was full of saintly lessons if your heart was wide open. In hospitals, humans are most vulnerable. They willingly or unwillingly must let their guards down, and they have to trust and depend on total strangers. It is very humbling, to say the least. Usually in such a place, ego has to go into its dormant state and, in my opinion, where it should remain for eternity.

In a hospital, human drama in every stage is out in the open for all to witness. Often, after we or someone we know gets critically ill or is dying, we crumble. As students, we crumbled along with the patients and their families to almost the same small pieces under the heavy burden. Witnessing and being a part of human suffering on a daily basis has its difficulties, especially when you are very young. In such an environment, you don’t get to take your time to grow up. You sort of grow up over night.

Not all things that make you grow up in a hospital are considered suffering. In the beginning, there are mostly times of hardship where you get to learn your lesson often under very rough circumstances. Though your fate is being tested on an hourly basis, if you allow it, this is a place you can become saintly after many tears, heartaches and lessons. Even if your heart is too small, you are sort of forced by nature to become more compassionate in your caring for others.

At the end of our required four-year education, which at the time felt like a long, dreaded winter, we completed our metamorphosis beyond any shadow of a doubt, but without the few students who had to drop out. We emerged as beautiful butterflies.

I know and acknowledge the need and the importance of a nurse in human existence. Beyond the ideal glory job, I don’t think there is much glory in nursing. Like anyone else who has had hands-on job training around the critically ill, no one can ever claim they didn’t cry at one time or another.

I remember questioning the existence of God through tears after witnessing the death of a young child with leukemia in the Pediatric Oncology unit. I remember feeling overwhelming sorrow, while watching a person shrivel right before my eyes, after hearing the news of losing a loved one in the emergency room. I remember being crazy afraid to forget to give someone their pain pill and cause them further suffering.

There were a few occasions when the fear I felt was not for someone else, but was for me. Like the time when my teacher locked the door behind me, right after I had entered the male lock-down psychiatric unit. For years, I couldn’t shake off the feeling of being dragged through the long hallways.

In reality, what had happened as soon as she locked the door behind me, a chain-smoking, smelly, male patient grabbed me by my arm and made me walk with him what seemed like an eternity until one of the unit nurses came to my rescue. It’s not that she really cared to rescue me because it wasn’t a secret among students those days in Turkey that while most nurses sat behind their desk and chain-smoked, we had to do all their chores. And believe it or not, in 1987, I even remember smoking in the lounge of a surgery center where I worked in Shreveport, Louisiana. Wow! Imagine that! Thank God, times have changed!

Sometimes, though not nearly enough, there were divine moments where your faith was restored and reminded you of the other side of the coin. Like the times I, along with other students, breathed in and out for long periods and began puffing with the women who were in labor, bringing new life into this world; or when I was the one delivering the news after just learning that after a long, fierce battle that someone was cancer-free, and together through tears of joy, we shared a life-affirming moment.

Although I remember some of those feelings and recall them as my memories, they are now mostly faded like background noise, and only occasionally occupy my mind.

But there is one memory of a moment still as fresh as the day of its happening. In my third year of nursing school, we were given more and more responsibilities, such as working in places like the Burn Care Units, Intensive Care Units and the operating rooms. By this time, I was becoming a cockier, seasoned pro and I knew it. However, it soon became apparent how little I knew. I never will forget the moment when I carelessly walked into one of the rooms in the step- down Intensive Care Unit. I literally felt all my blood draining, rushing out of my body. I froze at the sight of a patient who was in a semi-coma.

There was a young girl in a hospital bed, her body propped up with the help of several pillows. Her head had slipped to its side and was now tilted at an angle. It almost looked as if she were looking down, but had lifted her head halfway to look at you without straightening her body. Her eyes were unnaturally open. After my initial shock wore off, I noticed a large ventilator with a thick, white tube going from the machine to an opening in her neck.

I later learned that she was in her early twenties and had slipped into a coma seven years earlier due to a brutal car accident. She now was in a semi coma, her life being sustained with the help of the external ventilator. For me, the most haunting thing was her eyes.Her eyelids had atrophied due to years of not using them, leaving her eyes exposed. Although her eyes were open, they were empty like someone had sucked the life right out of them, but forgot to do the same thing to her body. She was alive, but without the presence of emotions. There appeared to be no signs of life in her.

After the first day, I somehow got used to her just lying there. Each day, we would care for her with the help of her devoted family. It was like taking care of an infant, but because her body was much larger, it made it harder for us to handle her. It usually took two of us to care for her needs. Besides the usual need to change her diaper, give her a bed bath, comb her hair and brush her teeth, there were added things, like cleaning the tracheotomy site, suctioning her airway, and nourishing her with a feeding tube.

Since her circulation was diminished, we would have to reposition her to prevent bedsores, which were deadly for anyone in her condition. When we turned her and tried to exercise her limbs, she would moan an almost invisible moan. At times, while I massaged her frail body with talc powder, I would think to myself, “Why bother, as if after all these years later, she will wake up and have a life that is worth living?” In my mind, I was thinking since she was not conscious of what was going on around her and could not control her bodily functions, she would not experience feelings nor would she have the ability to interact, experience awareness or make the choice that her life was not worth living.

After I spent two days a week with this girl for several months, I went into her room one day and found the bed empty.

“She must have passed away,” I thought. As I inched my way to the usual hustle of the busy nurse’s station, I was surprised at my conflicting emotions. On one hand, I felt the same emptiness inside of me as I did after the passing of each patient I had come to know. On the other hand, I was happy for her. Her suffering finally had come to an end. Afraid of looking weak, I didn’t want to ask if she had died.

But soon I could not overcome my curiosity as I heard myself asking in a small voice, “Did she die?”

“No,” said one of the nurses. “She went home!”

“She went home?” I repeated back, without being able to hide my shock.

“Yes, she went home.” repeated the nurse before handing me a list of things that had to be done that morning.

Apparently, one day, out of nowhere, she had regained her consciousness. Did that mean that she could now breathe on her own, and have voluntary movements? Did that mean she could now see when she looked? Did that mean she is now like the rest of us in a semi-coma in consciousness only? Her brain might be back to do its job and to take care and help sustain her body, but her state of mind will remain in the state of Intermittent Consciousness.

To tell you the truth, at the time, I was not awake enough to have noticed such thoughts. Not until years later did I have enough clarity to question what it means to wake up after seven years of being in a coma.

From that shocking moment up until now, many years have passed. Along the way, I experienced rare moments of pure joy, as if I could zoom in and see myself and everything around me with such clarity, in great detail. In those rare moments, I felt intense aliveness. I often felt like I could fly! It was as if I were a butterfly, who landed on each and every flower petal to take a closer look. I could smell scents I didn’t even know existed. I not only saw the colors of things, but the depth of the colors themselves. In those fleeting moments, I felt utter contentment, peace and happiness. I didn’t know to question where these feelings of bliss came from or if I had the power to make it happen more often. In my innocent ignorance, I attributed those moments of random happiness to external conditions outside of me because they usually happened during long, intimate moments, while dancing, or after a super long walk in the wilderness.

I thought that the other person or the condition was the cause of my happiness. So when I felt that way, I believed that I was in love with that person and wanted him to give me more of those moments. As for dancing, I went every weekend and danced for four or five hours nonstop. I didn’t understand that when I experienced those moments of joy, even if only for a split second, my overloaded brain stopped thinking and went into a meditative state where all mental chatter ceased. It was only then that I became aware of all the beauty around me. Since I had not heard about Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, or Eckhart Tolle at the time, I went on living my life on an automatic invisible life sustaining machine, wishing for more of those moments.

It took years of mental suffering before I learned the simple truth about living in the present moment. I seldom had moments of clarity. Conscious presence was a rare occurrence for me. Even when I had moments of clarity, I wasn’t aware of them until years later. It would take me years to get to this point of feeling alive and being able to zoom into my inner self, as well as the inner self of all those other beings around me.

There is a real joy of knowing the way to true happiness that doesn’t depend on outer conditions.

Perhaps you will find the story of my Intermittent Consciousness and my search for enlightenment resonate with you, or better yet, start to awaken something within you.

Hot Book of the Day: Lifetime of Achievement by Jordan Maylea Ramirez

Lifetime of AchievementTitle: Lifetime of Achievement
Author: Jordan Maylea Ramirez
Paperback: 106 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (December 7, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1480274399
ISBN-13: 978-1480274396


There are too many people going through life content with mediocrity. People going to jobs they hate, to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like. People who are dreading Monday, looking forward to hump day and praying for Friday; and let’s not even talk about those two weeks of paid vacation… those are gold!

How long have we been this way? Is this really what life is all about? I don’t believe we were created to be content with a mediocre lifestyle we never wanted in the first place. What happened to being a rock star, an astronaut, or an actor? What happened to the hopes and dreams we each had as children? Perhaps, over time, our dreams have changed… but our propensity for dreaming is still inside us.

Lifetime of Achievement outlines seven goal-setting strategies to help get you from where you are to where you want to be. In its chapters you will find knowledge from some of the worlds most popular personal development masterpieces, taken down to a level that is easy to read and simple to understand.

Learn the steps to discovering who you truly are, creating goals in perfect alignment with that discovery and implementing an action plan that, when followed, has been proven to produce results. Learn how to conquer fear, to activate the powers of the human mind and discover two of the most important factors shared by virtually every successful individual throughout history.

This book takes proven strategies and puts them into an easy-to-read, easy-to-implement format that can be read in as little as a few hours. Discover the steps, put them to work, and become prepared for a Lifetime of Achievement!

Book Excerpt:

Time has a funny way of passing whether we are prepared for it or not. The sun continues to rise and set, signaling the beginning and the end of another day; what we do with the time that passes is up to us.

Fate. Chance. Luck. We live in a time where these words are passed around like a “get out of jail free” card; relieving people of the burden of personal responsibility. Instead of believing our choices shape our future, we turn a blind eye and believe the common thread connecting those successful people in our world is nothing more than some lucky gene one is either born with, or not.

What a horrible way to live!

People skirt the idea of personal responsibility because it frightens them. The idea of owning each and every one of our mistakes can be a tough one. What people miss though is the unexplainable freedom, joy and liberation that can come with the simple act of becoming responsible for your life!

It was right at 5 years before writing this book that the idea of personal responsibility took hold of my psyche. At that point, I had dabbled in personal development for several years, begun my own business and experienced very little real success. The idea began with a seed planted by my therapist (yeah, I’m not kidding.) when he said to me, “You are responsible for your own happiness. You must become your own secure base in this world.”

The idea confounded me. It took hold and, before long, began to grow rapidly as a result of the books I began reading and the philosophy I began to adopt into my life. Do you hear the freedom in those words? YOU are responsible for your own happiness. YOU ARE! Not your family, not your friends. Not your circumstances, not your environment. You! You are responsible!

Now, don’t get me wrong… as the story goes, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Adopting the belief that we alone are responsible for the results in our life means facing up to the fact that if your current situation is not all sunshine and roses you have only one person to blame – and you can find them by looking in the mirror. Much like a recovering addict forced to face the reality of the chaos they have created, adopting the philosophy of personal responsibility takes courage, perseverance and faith. Courage to face your problems, perseverance to push past them and faith that there is freedom waiting on the other side.

I am here to tell you from personal experience that freedom is there. The liberation that comes from owning up to your choices is unparalleled, and the good news is once you have become aware of this power you can begin to write a new script… word by word, page by page, until you have composed the masterpiece that is your life; created by design and not by chance.

My life over the past 5 years has been incredible! Not every day, not even every week, but overall incredible. It started out slow, but day-by-day I began to see a little bit more of the life I was choosing to live, and became a little less victim to my circumstances. That freedom can be yours as well, if you have the courage to step up and take it!

The best part is even after 5 years the freedom of personal responsibility is just beginning. Many of the goals and aspirations I have for myself have not even been tapped yet… the thought is exhilarating!

I imagine a time not too far in the future, when I will step out onto the balcony that leads from the master suite of my and my husband’s dream home, ready to watch the sun set on another day gone by. I will think back over the years we have been married and smile at the life we have because I will know it was built by design, not left to chance. I will think of our children, tucked safely away in their beds, and the life they will have as a result of the choices we have made. I will be satisfied because in my heart I will know I have achieved the goals I set out to accomplish for myself and my family.

That story WILL be my future and a similar story can be yours too, but we have to begin today.

Take a moment to think about your life – not as it is now, but how it can be if you make the decision to take control of your future. What does “A Day in the Life of You” look like? What does it feel like, smell like, sound like? Close your eyes and imagine your ideal life. Imagine a perfect day and the components that come together to make it so.

The art of goal setting is a powerful component in living your life by design and has been one of my passions for several years now. I call it an art because the act of setting and achieving goals is so much more than thinking about the things you want in life. It’s a process not to be taken lightly, but if you will commit to it wholeheartedly over time you CAN create the life you desire.

Thank you for joining me on this journey! It is my wish that the principles I share with you throughout the pages of this book will be as life-changing for you as they have been and continue to be for me. The sky really is the limit! The future really is yours for the taking! It can begin today, and it begins with YOU!

Enjoy, and here’s to your future!

Purchase your copy:


Interview with Victoria Pendragon, author of ‘Sleep Magic: Surrendering to Success’


Victoria Pendragon was born and raised in the vicinity of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is the oldest of eleven. Her life has been defined, as are most of ours perhaps, by conditions that would seem to have been beyond her control. Eighteen years of various sorts of abuse and two diseases that should have killed her rank among the most outstanding of those.

Her study of metaphysics began in early childhood as an attempt to validate the lessons she’d been learning from the earth and the trees whenever she left her body. She has been working as a professional in the field of spirituality since 1995, has read tarot since 1964 and created in 2007, Sacred Earth Seven Element Tarot, a tarot deck designed to bring the world community together.

Victoria began training in art when still a child, eventually acquiring a BFA from The Philadelphia College of Art. Her work hangs in numerous corporate and personal collections, among them The Children’s Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Moss Rehab and Bryn Mawr Hospital Rehab.

She has two children by her first marriage, a son and a daughter, both of whom amaze her. She is currently married to her third husband, a man whose kind soul has created for her an atmosphere of clarity and creativity in which she dances, writes, creates art and helps when asked.

Her latest book is Sleep Magic: Surrendering to Success.

The author may be contacted through her website:




This is a spiritual book that enables you to use your dreams to reprogram your brain to experience healing and to manifest your true self.

New Thought minister Victoria Pendragon developed this program after being diagnosed with progressive systemic sclerosis – a painful, debilitating, disfiguring, and fatal disease. In the course of her illness, she developed her “SleepWork” program that contributed to her healing and almost recovery from sclerosis.

Welcome to Beyond the Books, Victoria!  I’m so excited for you to be here.  Sleep is my favorite thing to do!  I’d like to have your opinion on just why do we need sleep in the first place?

Victoria:  Thank you for having me.

Sleep is still a kind of a mystery to science, although it’s been well documented by now that it’s critical to health – both mental and physical. If you study the ancient Asian tradition of energetic medicine – the one on which acupuncture is based – you’ll see that certain functions of the organs of the body take place only at night.

Can you tell us the story behind the writing of your book?  How did you come up with the idea?

Victoria:  (laughing) Well, I came up with the idea of the book because a book was the only way to share this technique with the world. Doing it one on one, as I had been, would have been impossible.

As for how I came up with the idea…”I” didn’t; my body did and it did it while I was sleeping, at a time when my body was dying from an incurable disease called progressive systemic sclerosis. My recovery from that disease mystified the physicians…and everyone else…except me. Something – and I couldn’t put my finger on it – had been happening while I was sleeping…something that made me feel that I was alive. (laughing again) I was alive, of course, but feeling alive when people are telling you that you are dying is actually unusual because prior to that time, for about a year, I had simply felt that I was dying…a very different feeling, I can tell you.

About 15 years passed before what had been going on inside me at that time came to my consciousness in a way that was understandable enough to begin to codify it.

Does everyone dream?

Victoria:  It is said that they do. Scientists have done enough research by now that seems to indicate that even though certain people do not remember that they dream, they actually do,

Sleep Magic, by the way, has nothing to do with remembering dreams.

What can your book teach us?

 What Sleep Magic does is allow you to change your relationship to life…and that really matters a lot. If life seems like a constant struggle, that’s not very rewarding. If you are constantly having one bad relationship after another or can’t seem to find a job you enjoy, then your relationship with life itself is compromised.

But there’s a reason for all those things and that reason is locked in what I call the cellular intelligence of the body. Your body – not you mind! – remembers everything that you have ever seen, heard, touched, felt or tasted. Everything! So there is, in the cells of your body, memory of everything that has ever gone on in your life – even when you were in utero! And a lot of those things – of which you are totally unconscious – are things that have given you information about how the world is.

For instance, perhaps, when you were 2 years old, your parents went bankrupt. You were around, they discussed their problems when you were there, thinking nothing of it; you were “too young to understand.” But your little body could feel the sense of dread and fear and shame and all of that and it felt all those things when money and survival were being discussed…more importantly, your body remembered all of that and so you, as an adult, carry in the very cells of your body – and your brain which affects the thoughts you think! – information that life is a dangerous business…you might lose everything and that affects your relationship to life, affects the kinds of events that happen to you because you – we all – attract to us whatever we are, in sense, made of.

In this case, you’d be made up, at least partially, of fear and anxiety around money.

Sleep Magic can help the body let go of those feelings, even if you don’t “know” that they’re there.

You are a “new thought minister.”  What exactly is that?

Victoria: I was ordained, in 2000 as an InterFaith Minister but my practice has always been more as an Inner Faith Minister. I don’t believe that anyone needs “a religion” to be in touch with the spark of the Divine that they carry. I consider myself a spiritual eclectic and I honor everyone’s right to his or her own concept of Divinity.

Were you the kind of child that was inquisitive?

Victoria:  I still am.

What kind of a background do you have?  Where are you from and where did you grow up?

Victoria:  I come from exceptional people, I’ll say that. My mother’s father was an entrepreneur who owned the first chain of movie theaters in the US. He was also a hideous person in his personal life. My father’s mother was an entrepreneur as well – as was her mother before her. She, my grandmother, built the first middle-class subdivision just outside of Havana, Cuba. My paternal grandfather was a physician. Both my parents were pathologists, my mother was world famous as an expert in Sudden Infant Death syndrome. So I came from money, and a sense of entitlement and got sent to really good schools and all the while was enduring some fairly awful sexual and emotional abuse. It made for a challenging life.

If you could wish for one thing, what would that be?

Victoria: That every person in the world would be able to embrace their own essential goodness.

Thank you for this interview, Victoria.  Do you have anything else you’d like to add?

Victoria: Thank you for the interview! It was exceptional. Great questions!



Interview with Tamara Elizabeth: ‘I waited to publish on my 51st birthday as a celebration for another year traveled’

Tamara Elizabeth is a speaker, author, self love coach, radio host, a master motivator of women in transition, conductress of motivational seminars, professional photographer, small space designer, lover of social media, mother of 5, and a fabulously loveable woman after her first 50 years.  She is determined to create a revolution of women.

Tamara started her life over at fifty and believes that if she can do it, any woman can.  That’s when she decided to take her experiences and help others with her latest book, Fabulously Fifty and Reflecting It! – Discovering My Loveable Me.

I have 4 greatest accomplishments in my life – my 4 grown children.  My next greatest joy is my step son that I have had the honor of nurturing for the past 7 years.

Visit her website at

Follow her on Twitter at and Facebook at

Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Tamara.  Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

I am proudly a first time published author

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

I choose to go self-publishing with a Print on Demand company

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

I waited to publish on my 51st Birthday as a celebration for another great year traveled in my life.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

I was so proud of my perseverance and dedication. This workbook was a very important goal as apart of a healing process in my own journey of traversing through a challenging transition.

Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

I announced it on my website/blog and social media. Then I signed up for a virtual tour.

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

Once I saw it in print I realized I could do anything I put my mind to and have continued my writing with many spoons in my creative soup bowl. I am confident that absolutely anything can evolve into my next project – my fears are now abated.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

 With all the different avenues for getting ones work published, anyone has the opportunity to provide the world with their gift of words put into amazing ideas. With the increasing ease it is to get any book you want from anywhere in the world why not try to take flight with publishing your dream if you so desire.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

Right now just having so much fun being on virtual tour and learning so much about the book industry. I am loving it!

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

Your dream is a reality and only your imagination can prevent you from being published. If you have something to say share your gift – you owe it to the world to share your expertise no matter what it may be. Everyone has something important to satiate the minds of readers.


Book Trailer Spotlight: Fabulously Fifty and Reflecting It! by Tamara Elizabeth

Fabulously Fifty and Reflecting It!
by Tamara Elizabeth
Trail Blazing Press
Self-Help; Motivational
Produced by Pump Up Your Book

Purchase the book at Amazon

Fabulously FiftyThis is my story, a story of a woman who has discovered how through my reflections, the truly fabulously lovable me; the authentic me that I was born to be. I have moxie like the trail blazing women of the 20’s.

Today I am a confident, lovable courageous woman who realizes that fairy-tales don’t always have the ending of children’s books, but they can have the ending and continuation of what we truly want and believe. I have sass, courage, spunk, determination and attitude.

This book is the result of hard work and perseverance on a self love journey. It is the reflection of my life and from these reflections I have created a workbook for you, the readers, to assist you on your own journey to find the most authentic loveable you. I am your voice. I speak as you. I have been where you have traveled. I have finished licking my wounds and jumped back into the ring. I am MOXIMIZED!

My reflections shared are not to place blame on anyone in my path, for I take responsibility for my reactions to every challenge I have come across in my life. I just want you to understand that I have walked in your shoes and have never given up. You can restart your life at any time you want and still succeed in whatever you desire. This is not always easy but if it was then the journey wouldn’t be quite as exciting. “Easy is never fun” – to quote my fabulously delicious self love coach.

So I invite you into my world and to reflect upon your world. Enjoy the journey – I promise you it will be the most fabulously wonderful ride of your life.

dividerPersonalized book teasers are now available from Pump Up Your Book with any tour package at an additional price. What better way to get book buyers interested in your book than with the visual effects only book teasers can provide!

Contact us here to find out more about how you can get your own professionally designed book video teaser to promote your book today!

Learning ‘Right’ from ‘Wrong’ may not be the Right Way by Gregory Lay

We have a special guest today!  Gregory Lay, co-author of Life Choices: Putting the Pieces Together (Turning Point International), is here to talk to us about learning right from wrong!

Learning ‘Right’ from ‘Wrong’ may not be the Right Way!

By Gregory Lay

Life tosses a lot of lessons our way. Little events that seem to be petty annoyances are often the vehicles that carry those lessons – but being ready to listen is the challenge. Usually, when I finally recognize a lesson, I also have to recognize that it had been delivered many times before if I’d only been aware enough to recognize it.

My chapter in Life Choices is like that. In my own career, I’ve seen people defending their positions and distrusting others who didn’t share that position. I’ve seen how important it is to be ‘right.’ Naturally, I recognized others’ addiction to proving themselves to be right before I managed to look into the mirror and accept that I spend too much valuable time worrying about my own rightness.

When I started training people in other organizations, one of the first things I noticed was that everybody in my classes was always ‘right,’ and the people that gave them problems were always ‘wrong.’ It was either an amazing coincidence – or else a principle of human behavior that it would be wise of me to understand. When I was looking at others’ behavior from a safe perspective, it was easy to recognize that a big part of their problem was a habit of black-or-white thinking that keeps people from seeing and acknowledging another person’s point-of-view. Looking at others’ behavior helped me formulate the concept that letting somebody be ‘right’ doesn’t make somebody else ‘wrong.’

When people take the energy that is usually spend fighting about right or wrong and spend it on finding ways to be right together, they often achieve worthwhile goals. I’m still working on applying that principle in my own life. I hope that readers of the Life Choices stories will be able to see life lessons as others learned them – and from that safe perspective, learn how to apply the wisdom in their own lives.

Some of the stories in Life Choices are major life events. Some are barely noticeable blips on the screen until the lesson they carry is recognized. The stories in my chapter about ‘fact filters’ weren’t learning moments at the time – a disagreeable person in a meeting and an argumentative neighbor were events to file under ‘snort and forget.’ They weren’t stories with lessons like climbing the highest mountain or winning an Olympic gold medal, but when I stopped snorting about the situation and looked at the lesson, the value emerged.

Not that many people have ‘world championship’ stories, but everybody has ‘personal moment’ stories that are just as valuable when we step back to see the lessons. As you read Life Choices, I hope that in the stories about others’ learning moments, you’ll recognize your own stories and the lessons they brought you.

Gregory Lay addresses workplace issues – from the speaker’s platform and with a syndicated print column. He spent several years in ‘middle management’ positions where he learned that workplace inhabitants who come together to accomplish a similar purpose still go in many different directions based on their ideas, needs, and personalities. His goal now is to provide the needed guidance to help those team members reach a common goal.

He presents Heartily Working workshops to help build positive personal attitudes, inter-departmental collaboration, and organizational strength. Whether responding to a question in his column or from a workshop participant, Gregory is known for down-to-earth, practical solutions emphasizing a strategic approach to problem-solving.

He coordinates activities of the World Champions’ EDGE, a consortium of award-winning speakers and executive speaking coaches. Gregory is certified to present Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and Achieve Global educational materials, as well as presenting organizational growth topics for the National Seminars Group, a division of Rockhurst University. He’s active in the National Speakers’ Association, American Society for Training and Development, International Society for Performance Improvement, Southwest Writers, and Toastmasters International.

Gregory Lay is co-author of the self-help anthology, Life Choices: Putting the Pieces Together. Visit his website at

How to Sell Snow to a Polar Bear by Steff Deschenes

We have a special guest today!  Steff Deschenes, author of The Ice Cream Theory, talks about how she handled her first booksigning!

How to Sell Snow to a  Polar Bear
By Steff Deschenes

When I was twenty-two I received a call from a representative of Jack Daniels asking me if I wanted to become a “Jack Girl” – one of the official spokes models of the company – at a weeklong Spring Break for adults in Killington, Vermont.  Having no idea what Jack Daniels was, I agreed sight unseen because I needed the money, but more importantly, I needed an adventure.

That adventure has never stopped.  Four years later and I’m still an alcohol spokes model – one of the best in my region.  I’m not sure why exactly I’m such a natural at the job when I don’t really drink and I don’t really like people (that’s not true all the time).  But something happens to me when I put on my outfit – which is usually an inappropriately tight tank top and short skirt – and step onto the floor to start hustling my product.  I forget my insecurities and just become this larger than life character who, for two hours, becomes everyone in the room’s best friend.  And somehow, I easily persuade and coerce nearly everyone into drinking my (sometimes awful) alcohol product.

Maybe it’s the big blue eyes or the fast-talking, maybe it’s the impressive product knowledge, or maybe it’s the way I make people feel at ease around me.  But one thing’s for sure: I could sell snow to a polar bear.

As a direct result of being a “beer girl,” I’ve worked with several companies as their marketing specialist.  I think my years of peddling alcohol really trained my intuition and judgment.  I am excellent at reading people, reading a situation, and then responding appropriately.  I know when to back down and I know when to be relentless.  Employers have told me that somehow I manage to walk a fine line between “adorable” and “annoying” – and it really works for me.

There’s a saying in the alcohol business: When the economy is great, people drink!  When the economy is bad, people drink!  It seemed to me that wallets opened much easier for a drink at a bar with a stranger then they did for artistic endeavors from a twenty-something. Especially one who wrote a self-help book.  (Because what could I possibly know about life and the living of it at Quarter Century that I wouldn’t be more well-versed in at a Half Century?).

So, when I did my first book signing I had no idea how to promote myself to strangers.  Sure, I had plenty of experience in the marketing industry, but I couldn’t imagine that the same way I approached people about booze would be the same way I approached people about an indie self-help book.  This was a lot more personal, too.  If people hate a certain beer or think I’m ugly (remember: we’re beer models after all – mean people feel like that’s an open invitation to critique us), I really don’t lose sleep over it, because 1) the beer isn’t MY product; it’s some multi-billion dollar company’s that I’m promoting; and, 2) sometimes I am ugly!

Not knowing what to do, I threw on my standard wardrobe for my book-related appearances (a t-shirt that says “I Scream.  You Scream.  We All Scream!” with a terrified looking ice cream cone on it, jeans, and a tweed flat cap) and a ate a bowl of cake batter ice cream with hot fudge sauce in it before heading to my signing, which perfectly enough, was held at an ice cream store during their town’s art walk festival.

The first few moments sitting at the table by myself, outside on a patio overlooking the ocean in a very well-to-do area while people looked awkwardly at me, were extremely tense.  I had nothing to offer these people who were leaps and bounds ahead of me on the socio-economic ladder.

I had nothing to offer these people?, I suddenly thought angrily to myself.  I’m a twenty-something who wrote an eleven-time award winning book, and I did it completely on my own as I’m a self-published author.  I had something to offer these people – ME.

And that’s when, just like it does when I’m an alcohol spokes model, a flip switched inside me.  I jumped up from the table and began very animatedly just making conversation with passer-by’s.  People wanted to know what I was doing.  And that’s when I told them – and sold them on – me and my book.  I walked the fine line of adorable and annoying, I intrigued and bewildered people, and wouldn’t you know – I sold some books.

They say a successful book signing sells three books.

I sold fourteen in the two hours I was there!

What I learned from that night was incredibly valuable, and was something that, while I always knew, I had simply never applied to myself as a brand (which you become the moment you step up to the plate and start playing the game for real.  You are not your book.  You are a brand and your book is simply a part of that).   And that’s: when you’re knowledgeable about something, and when you’re passionate about that same something, magic happens.

And what are we more knowledgeable about then ourselves?

And what are we more passionate about then our dreams?

You can visit Steff on the web at You can also visit her at

The Ice Cream Theory: Interview with Steff Deschenes

Despite a failed attempt at majoring in ice cream in college, Steff Deschenes is a self-taught ice-cream guru. After publishing the now twelve-time award-winning The Ice Cream Theory, she began exploring food on a more universal level. As a result, she now photo blogs daily herself at dinner and the challenges of being a vegetarian in a predominantly seafood-oriented state. Steff also writes two articles a week entitled “Maybe It’s Me” (personal essays and reflection on life and the living of it) and “Fact Is Better” (real life conversations she couldn’t make up if she tried); all of which can be found at You can also visit her at

About The Ice Cream Theory

The Ice Cream Theory is ice-cream guru Steff Deschenes’s charming exploration of the parallels between human personalities and ice-cream flavors, a tongue-in-cheek celebration of the variety inherent in a well-lived life.

The Theory was hatched when Deschenes was trying to make sense of her first heartbreak.  In the midst of that grief, she realized that, in the same way humans have ice-cream preferences, humans have people preferences. Like ice cream flavors, social preferences shift based on age, experience, even mood. There are exotic flavors that one craves when feeling daring, comforting flavors to fall back on, flavors long-enjoyed that eventually wear out their welcome, and those unique flavors that require an acquired taste. Like people, no ice cream flavor is perfect every single time . . . and it is in this realization that the crux of Deschenes’s theory lies.

Deschenes neatly brings together anecdotes from her own adventures with broader-reaching social commentary to help others recognize the wisdom and joy inherent in a beloved dessert.

With its cheeky self-help slant, The Ice Cream Theory is an endearing and light-hearted addition to any bookshelf.  It’s a must read for anyone bruised by life’s tough lessons and in need of a cheerful pick me up!

Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Steff.  Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

The Ice Cream Theory is my first published book, but technically I’m multi-published.  I was a sports writer for a Maine newspaper for seven years.  And although my article byline always read “Staff Writer,” I knew it was just a typo for “Steff Writer”!  What’s one vowel, right?

Q: What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?

I actually wrote and illustrated a children’s book called Sam and Tinky All Year Round when I was in the fifth grade. It was based around my childhood pets – Sam our Siamese cat and Tinkerbell our calico.  I got an “A” on it and still have it – actually, I think it’s on my book shelf in between Where the While Things Are and A Million Chameleons!

Q: For your first published book, how many rejections did you go through before you either found a mainstream publisher, self-published it, or paid a vanity press to publish it?

Countless.  But I had a back-up plan: if after one full year of rejection I hadn’t been picked up, I would self-publish.   It was as easy and simple as that – this book was going to be published one way or another.  But, it was still a long, rough year filled with hundreds of versions of “no,” “you’re not right for us,” or, my personal favorite: getting no response back at all.

Q: How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?

It certainly didn’t derail me at all.  I had wanted to be a writer since I was eight years old.  And now that I had a book – a mighty good book if you asked me – I wasn’t about to let someone else prevent that dream from coming to fruition.

Q: When your first book was published, who published it and why did you choose them?

I chose a company called BookSurge; they were the baby company of  And is such an online powerhouse that I thought it would be ideal to use a company they had created specifically to help self-published authors like me succeed in a non-traditional way.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

It was surreal.  I remember getting the proof of my book in the mail and literally just staring at it.  Years of hard work, countless hours of writing, and thousands of miles travelled to put it all together were summed up in the pretty little package I held!  I drove to my mom’s house to show her – she’s been the biggest champion of my cause since day one and there was no one else in the entire world I wanted to share such a feat with!

Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

My sister and I went on an “ice cream bender.”  We took the book and travelled to all ten ice cream parlors in my town to eat ice cream and talk to people about The Ice Cream Theory.  You can actually watch the videos online!

Q: If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?

No.  Knowing what I know now about the massive shift happening in the publishing industry (more books are now self-published than traditionally published every year), I would have jumped on the self-publishing route a lot faster.  There’s nothing wrong with being an indie writer!

Q: Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author?

I haven’t been published since then – it took a tremendous amount of effort to self-publish The Ice Cream Theory and, to be honest, I’m still hard at work marketing and promoting it.  Which is how I’ve grown the most as an author.  Writing was the easy part; the patience and dedication it took to self-publish along with the thick-skin I’ve developed from dealing with bad reviews, no-shows at book-signings, and the general negative and exclusive attitude some in the business have towards self-published authors has forced me to grow in leaps and bounds.  All of which I’m thankful for!

Q: Looking back since the early days when you were trying to get published, what do you think you could have done differently to speed things up?  What kind of mistakes could you have avoided?

I should have used the resources available to me and not held back.  I’ve always done an excellent job at networking, but I was shy about reaching out for help from the talented and generous people around me.

Q: What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?

The Ice Cream Theory has won eleven awards.  Eleven awards!  That’s huge!  When I won the first one, I remember thinking it must have been a fluke or that the judges were just throwing me a bone.  But ten awards later, I know without a doubt that there’s something very special about The Ice Cream Theory and its being recognized and appreciated by people from all walks of life.

Q: If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?

I’ve been an alcohol spokes model for several years now (it’s been an incredible part-time job and has proven to be an excellent source for professional networking), and if I could do it forever, I would!

Q: Would you give up being an author for that profession or have you combined the best of both worlds?

To be honest, I’m not quite at that point where I’m making my living from being a writer, but everything I do is to get me there.  Even being an alcohol spokes model at this point is.  And it’s actually what I plan on writing my next book about!

Q: How do you see yourself in ten years?

Writing for living.  And going on adventures.  And eating!  But most importantly, being surrounded by the people I love.  Everything else after that is just icing on the cake.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

Everybody is going to offer their two cents on how to become a published writer.  But, in the end, just as it is with living life, you’re going to have to pave your own way.  You simply gotta believe: believe in yourself, believe in the process, and believe that your book is good enough.

10 Fun Facts About Judge Glenda Hatchett

We have a wonderful guest post for you today by Judge Glenda Hatchett, television personality and author of her new self-help book, Dare to Take Charge: How to Live Your Life on Purpose (Center Street). You can visit Judge Hatchett’s website at

10 Fun Facts About Judge Glenda Hatchett

by Judge Glenda Hatchett

  1. Author of National Best-Selling book “Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say”
  2. Received a “Made in NY” award in 2005 for her contribution to New York City’s daytime television community
  3. Serves as a National Spokesperson for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates)
  4. Named one of the “100 Best & Brightest Women in Corporate America” by Ebony Magazine
  5. Best known nationally for her “creative sentencing” and revolutionary “interventions”
  6. Became Georgia’s first African-American chief presiding judge of a state court
  7. Recognized by the National Bar Association as Outstanding Jurist of the Year
  8. Received the Roscoe Pound Award, the highest award for outstanding work in criminal justice, from the National Council on Crime & Delinquency
  9. Received the Outstanding Community Service award from the Spelman College Board of Trustees
  10. Received the NAACP’s Thurgood Marshall award

After graduating from Emory University School of Law and completing a coveted clerkship in the U.S. Federal Courts, Glenda Hatchett accepted a position at Delta Air Lines, as the company’s highest-ranking African-American woman. She served in dual roles as a senior attorney for Delta, litigating cases in federal courts throughout the country, and Manager of Public Relations, supervising global crisis management, and media relations for all of Europe, Asia and the United States. In fact, her outstanding contributions were recognized by Ebony Magazine, which named Glenda Hatchett one of the “100 Best and Brightest Women in Corporate America.” She made the difficult decision to leave Delta Air Lines in order to accept an appointment as Chief Presiding Judge of the Fulton County, Georgia Juvenile Court.

Upon accepting the position, Glenda Hatchett became Georgia’s first African-American Chief Presiding Judge of a state court and the department head of one of the largest juvenile court systems in the country. Glenda Hatchett is a graduate of Mt. Holyoke College and has been recognized as a distinguished alumni and awarded an honorary degree by the college. She also attended Emory University School of Law and because of her commitment to excellence and service within the community, Glenda was awarded the Emory Medal, the highest award given to an alum by the university. Currently, Glenda Hatchett presides over the syndicated show, “Judge Hatchett” currently in its 8th season (Sony Pictures Television), and is author of the national best-seller, “Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say” (HarperCollins). She has previously served on the Board of Directors of Gap, Inc. the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), and The Service Master Company.

Presently, Glenda Hatchett is a board member of the Atlanta Falcons Football Organization and serves on the Board of Advisors for Play Pumps International. She also serves on the Boys and Girls Clubs of America National Board of Governors and she resides in Atlanta, Georgia with her two sons.

Her latest book is Dare to Take Charge: How to Live Your Life on Purpose.

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