30 April 2014

Zzzzzzzzzzz'is is The End



Ladies and Gentleman we have reached the end of the alphabet!



I will reflect on this month long journey a little bit later on, but I wanted to wish everyone a huge thank you for coming by and visiting this blog throughout the month.

As a final send off, here's my top five favorite posts that I would highly encourage you to check out for yourself:

5 Valuable Lessons Learned from scary Movies (My V Post)

Updates on My Writing and Blogging Goals (My U Post)

Premonitions - Do You Have This Sixth Sense? (My P Post)

National Storytelling Festival (My N Post)

Would You Stay in a Haunted House (My H post)

I plan on taking a few days off from blogging here! And you know what will I do during my blog-cation?




The Author's Training Manual - The Ultimate Publication Preparation Guide [A Book Review]

About the Book



Anyone can publish a book and become an “author,” but if you want to become a successful author with a profitable publishing career, you need a clear, step-by-step guide to help you develop book ideas that sell. In The Author Training Manual, expert editor and book coach Nina Amir reveals the exact process successful authors have used to create business plans and proposals for their books and teaches you how to view your ideas through the eyes of acquisition editors and literary agents. Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, plan to traditionally publish or self-publish, The Author Training Manual provides you with the tools you need to achieve your goals and become the author publishers and readers want. Inside you’ll find concrete steps, evaluations, sample business plans, in-depth training activities, editor and agent commentaries, and much more – all designed to help you stand out, from the slush pile to the shelf.

My Review of The Author's Training Manual



Being in the trenches with other writers and published authors means I hear a lot of conversations about preparing books for self publication, editing, querying, finalizing details, marketing, and everything else that goes into the publishing process.

I had the opportunity to read The Author's Training Manual by Nina Amir and this guide is perfect for any writer that is in the process of getting their book ready for publishing. In my opinion, as I read it, this is perfect for any author preparing to publish their book.

Reading this book makes me realize how much works is involved with the publication process. It isn't easy stuff and this book is an eye-opener. It handholds you through the process of choosing a title, figuring out how to market your book, how to summarize what your book is about and why readers should buy it, and so much more.

Another reason I liked this book is that this author does not beat around the bush, so to speak, on how to prepare your book. She describes the homework you must do in order to compete in this burgeoning market. She's like a friend who will always tell you how you look in an outfit. Even if it hurts your feelings. She is the one who will tell you if your book looks fat in those jeans.

Probably the only thing that stood out to me with this book is that this does seem to appeal to non-fiction or self-help authors a bit more than it would fiction authors. She does use examples with both though and for each chapter she provides a list of a few books you should check out, in case you need further help.

About The Author, Nina Amir



Nina Amir, the Inspiration to Creation Coach and author of How to Blog a Book and The Author Training Manual, transforms writers into authors. She inspires people from all walks of life to create books that positively impact readers and to develop careers as authors, achieve their goals, and fulfill their potential. Nina is a sought-after nonfiction developmental editor, proposal consultant, and author, book, blog-to-book, blog, and results coach. Some of her clients have gone on to sell 300,000+ copies of their books and to land deals with major publishing houses. She writes four blogs, has self-published 12 books and is the founder of National Nonfiction Writing Month, aka the Write Nonfiction in November Challenge. You can find all of Nina’s blogs by visiting her main website, www.ninaamir.com. You can also follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Purchase your copy by visiting Amazon.com and you can discuss this book at the virtual book club going on over at Goodreads.

I received this book in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links for which I will receive small compensation if you purchase through my link.

29 April 2014

My Interview with a [Y]eti Monster



Today I had the special opportunity to interview Yalinda the Yeti, who flew down from her home in East Asia to take part in today's post, brought to you by the letter Y.



Me: Thank you Yalinda for joining me today. How are you doing this afternoon?

Yalinda: You're very welcome. I love speaking with human beings, you're so tas-friendly.

M (getting a little uncomfortable): What do you have to say about people who assume you are just a legend or a myth?

Y: I find it offensive. What would say if I said people were just a myth, huh? Big Foot and I discuss this all of the time. You ridiculous human beings need physical proof for everything [she sighs and rolls her eyes; flips back her longish white fur]

M: You talk with Big Foot?

Y: We're cousins, of course. [chuckles] He lives in Oregon. [shakes her head] I keep telling him that he needs to move out of the area, but he refuses to move. He just loves the trees and some place called Voodoo Do-something or other.

M: What do you think of Portland so far?

Y: It's too hot.

M: Anything else?

Y: No, it's too hot.

M: Have you see the movie Monster's, Inc. yet? I noticed they used the Yeti Monster-

Y: I must interrupt you. The word "monster" is an extremely derogatory word. I would rather you wouldn't use that word.

M: I apologize. [glances at notes] So what do you think of the use of the Yeti Mon-ahem-the Yeti in popular culture?

Y: I don't normally watch television but you humans have a ridiculous idea of what the Yeti's are like. We're quite peaceful actually.

M: I'm glad you could clarify that for us. So, what do you do during your free time?

Y: Chess, I like a good game of Chess. Would you like to play with me? [smiles with her sharp teeth glinting in the sunlight]

M: [shifts around in seat nervously] Um, well I think we might be out of time. Thank you again for taking the time to speak with me today and I'm sure we'll be in touch soon.

This interview is a work of fiction. Whether or not the Yeti plays chest is unknown.

28 April 2014

[X]enoglossy - Knowing a Previously Unknown Language



You'd be surprised to know that the letter X for this challenge was one of the easiest letters I've written for so far.



What is Xenoglossy?

Well, Xenoglossy is the phenomenon where you can speak and write in a language that isn't your own. After doing a little bit of reading online, I learned that this phenomenon is often connected to the idea of past lives and many people have uncovered knowledge of languages (that they didn't before) in a state of hypnosis and their knowledge was connected to previous lives and outdated ancient versions of certain languages.

I'm open to the idea of cases in Xenoglossy being true.

And if I could know any language by heart without having to make an effort to study, it would probably be French. I did study it in college, but I would love to wake up fluent in both French and English.

If you could wake up and be fluent in any language of your choosing, what language would you choose?

26 April 2014

[W]hat's In My 'To Be Read' Stack?



Today I decided to go over what was in my 'to be read' stack. I love the library and recently got a huge stack of new books I plan on reading. So, I thought I would share the three of the books in my "to be read stack."

1) The Mist in the Mirror by Susan Hill


I haven't started it yet, but Susan Hill is one of the newest authors I've discovered and I really enjoyed the last book I read called, "The Man in the Picture."

She really gives off unique and vivid settings and always has a strong narrator voice. She reminds me of the classic horror novels.

Here's a portion of what it says on the back cover..."[Sir James Monmouth soon begins to feel as though something is warning him away at every turn; there are the intense feelings of being watched and the strange apparitions of a sad little boy. And as he learns more about his hero's past, he discovered that they are only the beginning, for Kittiscar Hall is hiding a terrible secret that will being their lives together in ways he could never have imagined."

2) The Plague by Albert Camus

I picked this book up at the library recently mostly because I have never read a book by him before! And then read a portion of what it's about: "In Oran, a coastal town in North Africa, the plague begins a series of portents, unheeded by the people. It gradually becomes an omnipresent reality, obliterating all traces of the past and driving its victims to alost unearthly extremes of suffering, madness, and compassion."

3) I Am Legend by Richard Matheson



I heard a lot of things about this book, especially after seeing the movie (which I didn't like). I'm hoping I like the ending better, because I didn't like how the movie ended, and I think I remember hearing the book ends differently.

Obviously this just scratches the surface on what's in my "to be read" stack, but it's a great beginning!

What books are you planning on reading (or currently reading)?

25 April 2014

5 Valuable Lessons Learned from Scary Movies





I love watching scary movies. Especially the kind that just make you jump and run for the covers and shiver at shadows. And after watching so many of these movies and reading their books, I think there are some valuable lessons that can be learned from watching the mistakes and horrific consequences that some of our favorite characters find themselves in while they fight their invisible or (seemingly) unbeatable force.

So here are a few things I've learned from some of my favorite scary movies and novels:

1) Always find out the history of the house before you buy it.

You always see happy, innocent families (like in the Conjuring or Amityville Horror ) purchasing their brand new house and feeling so good and hopeful about their new life. And then of course, an evil ghost happens to be inside of the house and invades this serenity to destroy it.

Bottom line is always learn about the history of a house before you buy it.

2) Babysitting should come with a warning label.

Ridiculous as it seems, but really, so many horrible things happen to the babysitter in horror movies. I mean, just think of it, Halloween (although the babysitter did live in that movie...) and When a Stranger Calls (versions 1 and 2 AND the remake)just to name a couple.

3) Don't camp or hike in isolated woods.

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, the Blair Witch Project, and The Ritual, all prove you shouldn't camp where you don't have a crowd. Sure, I'm probably wrong. But this is a lesson well learned by these characters. And if you have to be in isolated woods if you're in a horror novel or movie, at least camp where you have wifi and good cell phone reception.

4) Never separate.

How many times have we witnessed characters going their own ways in a horror stories? Isn't this the most ridiculous thing you have ever seen? NEVER SEPARATE IN A HORROR MOVIE OR BOOK. I don't even need to give examples to tell you why that's important.

5) Never stay in an completely vacant hotel or creepy looking mansion.

I don't care how rainy it is or how tired you are, but if Psycho isn't proof of anything, it's proof you should never stay at a completely vacant hotel.

I was going to do 10 lessons, but I seriously don't have it in me today. Maybe this will be a twoparter.

What lessons have you learned from scary movies or books?

24 April 2014

[U]pdates On My Writing and Blogging Goals



Okay, this is a semi-cheat post. I had just finished writing about my favorite UFO/alien movies, when I clicked exit out of the document I was working on and didn't save it. I have no reasons behind why I did that at all.

So, I thought I would sneak in a post to update my blog and everything else going on with writing!

Lately, I have managed to write practically everyday. In fact, it's gotten to be an ingrained habit. That isn't to say that I write a 1,000 words every night or even 500 words every night, but I am writing everyday and that is a huge deal to me.

I have just finished my next round of submissions for the children's book my mom and I wrote together and a round of submissions to some poetry I've worked on. I also have a lot of hope about a flash fiction story I've heavily edited and that is making the rounds on literary magazine submissions.

Lastly, I'm working on a short story right now that isn't all that short anymore. It's over the 10,000 word mark and a part of me wonders how much more I have to write and whether or not I want to see if I can make it to the next word count benchmark of 50,000 words. If I do hit that benchmark, it isn't a short story anymore and whether or not I want to make it something else besides a short story is based on how I want it to end.

I'm also working on a new short story and have TONS more ideas coming at me that I can't wait to get started on.

As for blogging, I'm a bit stretched thin at the moment, especially because of this A to Z challenge (as well as some other things going on). So, it's been quite the balancing act. I want to say I've done well, although to be honest, this challenge set me back a bit, because I'm not used to writing a post everyday for this blog.

Overall, I think I am making great strides towards my goal of getting published this year. And most of all, I'm taking huge steps towards improving my editing and rewriting skills.

Do you have any writing or blogging goals? How are you doing on achieving those goals?

23 April 2014

[T]ime Slips and the Case of the Vanishing Hotel



You're taking a long road trip and you decide to stop for the night. While looking for a place to stop for the evening, you a historic looking building and decide to stay in it for a night or two. But it isn't until a few days later, when you look through photographs you took while at the hotel that you realize that they are missing. And it isn't until months later that you try to return to that same hotel that you can't find it anywhere at all.

Time slips are a phenomena where someone travels through times with unknown means. One of the more popular cases is in 1979, a couple traveling through France stumble upon a historic hotel during their travels. They ate food, took photographs, and paid an unreasonably low price for their stay. When they came home, they realized that their photographs were missing from their camera and when they tried to find the hotel again, it was nowhere to be found.

I love things like this and I'm fairly sure if I could "time slip" anywhere it would be time slip in Europe during the Medieval Times. To actually enjoy the real "medieval times" outside of the attraction.

And now that I brought up Midevial Times, I have to share this clip with you -



22 April 2014

9 [S]ongs to Set the [S]pooky Mood



If you are participating in the A to Z Challenge like me, you may find that you are getting a tad blog weary. But this is a fantastic discipline and we are so close to the end! Plus, I already have my "X" and "Z" topics chosen, so I know I need to finish.

But I decided to take the easy route and provide you with my top ten  nine favorite songs to set the spooky mood in honor of my Halloween in April theme!

1) Halloween Theme Song

This is one of those iconic Halloween songs that always get you a little freaked out when you hear it.




2) Theme from Rosemary's Baby

Whenever I listen to the theme from Rosemary's Baby it reminds me of some sort of demented lullaby that I'd hear my creepy neighbor sing.

3) Music from Nightmare on Elm's Street

Never listen to this song at night when you are about to go to bed. Very bad idea. Prepare for nightmares, type of bad idea.

4) Psycho Theme

How can you have a list of spooky theme songs without including the theme song from Psycho? Particularly the shower theme song. You don't even need to watch the movie clip to not want to go bathe.

 5) Theme Music from Chuckie

Absolutely perfect this music is, because this is another one that sounds like a chilling version of a lullaby. Especially with the innocent sounding voices in the background.

6) The 13th Hour Soundtrack (particularly 'Family Secrets')

I came across this spooky song on Pandora one day and I hope this link I'm including in this post works for you, because this is a must listen to song (and album). Especially if you are planning on working on anything spooky and you need inspiration.

7) Music Box Theme from Silent HIll 2

I've never seen this movie, but I think this is the creepiest music box theme music I've ever heard.

8) Amityville Horror Theme Song

I like how this music starts because it's got a gentle beginning and has a chilling, ominous quality throughout the whole song.

9) Theme song from Christine

I love this theme song! Just imagine if you played this while you were driving. How cool that would be?

Do you know any favorite movie theme music that's spooky?

21 April 2014

Rhine Research Center - The Study of Parapsychology



In another part of the A to Z Challenge, with the letter K, I brought to you the Koestler Parapsychology Unit and now I am bringing you a place with a similar focus:

Rhine Education Center in Durham, North Carolina.

Their mission statement says that they explore "the frontiers of consciousness and exceptional human experiences in the context of unusual and unexplained phenomena. [Their mission] is to advance the science of parapsychology, to provide education and resources for the public and to foster a community for individuals with personal and professional interest in PSI."

I explored their website for a good part of an hour and was fascinated by the information and opportunities on their website for learning more about the paranormal or "exceptional human experiences." One particular interesting part of their site was the "experience of the month" and this month they talk about psychic messages coming into dreams.

And for your creepy enjoyment, I finally found this movie I was trying to think of entitled, "Rose Red" about a parapsychologist who brings six psychics to this haunted house in order to explore the house's psychic powers.

Here's music from the film to inspire you!

19 April 2014

Do You Have a [Q]uestion Google Can't Answer?


I thought the letter Q for this A to Z Challenge was the hardest, but I decided to bring a feature back to my blog and use this challenge to promote it.


A couple of years ago I launched a feature on my blog entitled, "Do You Have a Question Google Can't Answer?" and I ended up featuring some interesting question and answer segments. 

The first was my own question about a case I heard of when I was in high school and these four teenagers created a horror movie where the victim in the film had no idea this was a real movie in real life. 

My readers also managed to solve the question where someone was trying to find a local area garden statue they couldn't find online. 

I didn't have many questions after that, but I would love to see if there is a renewed interest in this feature of my blog.

So, if you have a question you've never been able to solve by "googling" it, I want to know. Email me your question to npyles86 at gmail dot com and I will feature it after the April challenge is over and we'll see if we can get it solved for you.

So now the best question of all is - can you stump Google


18 April 2014

[P]remonitions - Do You Have This Sixth Sense?


My first unexplainable - but turned out to be true - premonition started in 2012 when I just got the sense that something not very good was going to happen in April of that next year. I couldn't pinpoint what exactly or who it would be even be about, but the feeling just wouldn't leave me alone. Then, at the start of 2013, I thought it may have something to do with some health problems I was having so I went to the doctor to get some things checked out. But it wasn't that at all.



Then March rolled around and a huge change hit my and my family's life at that time and then by the time April rolled around, I came to realize the origin of that "bad feeling." Without going into too many personal details, I know I had sensed it coming. (And I haven't had that feeling same since.)

My mom has a sixth sense too and she will often get a premonition of things to come (which turn out to be true as well).

And I'm always fascinated about the experiences of others and I know there are other stories out there. In fact, I found a database published on about.com of the premonitions other people have had too. / This is actually something important to do if you do get premonitions - you do want to document what you've sensed.

Do you have a sixth sense? Have you ever had a premonition come true?


17 April 2014

Ouija Board - Who is Pushing the Oracle? [A Writing Prompt]




It's Saturday night and you are one of the few people left at a party. It's nearing 1 am and you are contemplating simply calling a cab or convincing your former college roommate that it would be a good idea for you to just crash here.

Then someone brings out the Ouija board.



You've never been much of a believer in the game and half the time you feel like it's someone else pushing it.

But as people gather round and some place their hand on the oracle, you realize there is still room for one more. You discard your beer onto a garbage filled side table and sit down on the carpet, leaning into the Ouija board placed into the middle of the room.

Your finger tips barely scrape the top of the oracle. Everyone waits a beat while the giggles settle down and the whispers for everyone to "stop moving it" die down.

And then it begins to move.

Letter by letter it sends it's message. It starts out as funny, almost. One of the people crowded around who simply wanted to watch insists another person is moving it. But when the oracle stops, it's message sends a chill up and down your spin as you realize your life might be in danger.

What happens next? And what did the Ouija board say?

16 April 2014

[N]ational Storytelling Festival #AtoZChallenge



Although I don't believe in creating a "bucket" list (too ominous for me to make one; what will happen to me if I finish it, because isn't that the point?), a few things on that list consist of seeing New York City during New Year's Eve, go skydiving, and go to the Sundance Film Festival (among other things which I probably should write down). Another one that I just decided to add to the list of things I want to do one day is attend the National Storytelling Festival!

I stumbled across it when searching for something to write for the letter N, and decided to write about this. It may be stepping out of my "Halloween in April" theme (although, in my defense, the festival IS held in October), but it goes right in line with the overall theme to my blog - which is writing and telling stories.

It started out with a journalism teacher and some neighbors coming together and telling stories on an October day. Two years later, it began as a festival that would continue on for 40 years. Sort of like the stories that used to play on radios, the National Storytelling Festival believes in the power of the "well-told story" and draws crowds of people to listen to the stories the tellers share.

One part of the event you KNOW I would attend, given the chance, would be the Ghost Stories event (you can read about that here.

Have you ever been to the National Storytelling Festival? What story would you tell at the if you were asked to tell one?

15 April 2014

[M]othman Prophecies - The Myth, The Movie



Mothman Prophecies is one of the creepiest movies I seen in a long time. Every time I watch this film, I get weirded out and get that creeping sensation like something is in the same room with me as I watch it.

The movie is based on real events that happened in Point Pleasant, VA. Citizens in the town reported seeing a mothlike creature and these sightings continued to happen until the collapse of the Silver Bridge. There is actually an old newspaper published online that discusses the sightings that happened during this period of time too (read it here).

At first, the reason for the bridge's collapse remained a mystery but later its collapse was attributed to negligence. (read the one year anniversary of it's collapse here). There is also more reported sightings of the Mothman (read a blog post I found about other recent sightings here), so it doesn't surprise me that this mysterious legend lives on.

One of my favorite quotes form the movie says this, "You've noticed them. And they've noticed you noticing them."

To finish of this post, I'll end with a movie clip -







Do you believe there's a "Mothman"? Have you ever seen it?

14 April 2014

5 Things I Just Learned About The [L]och Ness Monster



Everyone has heard of the Loch Ness monster, but I don't know if most of us know a lot about it. To be honest, before I started looking around, I didn't even know where the Loch Ness monster supposedly lived.

So in honor of the letter L today, I thought I would do some digging around and see what I could see about the Loch Ness Monster and tell you ten things I learned about this legend.



1) Loch Ness is actually the name of the body of water near Scotland in Great Britain. The website I found states that the loch is a "tectonic lake resulting from a movement in the earths crust." (1). Also, the Loch Ness monster is also fondly called "Nessie."

2) The first siting of the Loch Ness monster was as far back as 565 and then the next siting was the year 1650. But the first picture of the Loch Ness monster was in 1933.

3). The latest siting of the Loch Ness monster was by a couple in June 2011.

4) There is a live web cam to let you view the Loch Ness lake and catch any monster sitings. Visit this link - http://www.nessie.co.uk/view.html.

5) It has been rumored that since the Loch Ness monster hasn't been seen in over a year that she may be dead. (2)

Do you believe in the Loch Ness monster? What do you think it is? 

12 April 2014

[K]oestler Parapsychology Unit - The Study of the Unexplained #AtoZChallenge



Although it may be tough for many to embrace, I've always been fascinated by the paranormal and when I started doing research for the letter K, I couldn't believe my luck in finding the Koestler Parapsychology Unit.



Located at the University of Edinburgh, in Scotland, according to their website, they study "the possible existence of psychic ability, belief in the paranormal, the psychology of anomalous experience, psuedo-psychic deception and self-deception, and the social and historical relevance of parapsychology." (1)

They also offer an online course that teaches people about the paranormal including what parapsychologist have found, people's paranormal experiences, what critics say and how to critique paranormal experiences. I was looking over what they study and they also study dreams, near-death experiences, and so much more.

This is probably the best approach to the paranormal that I've seen - it's not saying that it doesn't exist, but it isn't saying it's always 100% true.

Can you image the awesome creative inspiration that would happen by studying in this school?

Excuse my while I go major in AWESOME at the Koestler Parapsychology Unit.

11 April 2014

Don't Go [J]ogging Through These Woods - A Writing Prompt #AtoZChallenge #AmWriting



You decided to go for a jog.

It's late at night, but since it's almost summertime, you still had daylight left



You put on your headphones and you blast your music. You take the jogging path that's a few miles south of where you live and get lost in the feeling of your feet hitting the ground and the evening air on your skin.


Some time later, you decide it's time to circle back. You're getting tired and the sky is getting dark and it's starting to get foggy.




You turn around, but the path behind you, looks completely different.

Do you know where you are?

Maybe. You decide to run on ahead and yet can't find your way back to the main path. You keep going and soon you come across this house -



You've lost your way and it looks safe enough. So you get closer and knock on the front door.
The door opens and you go inside.



You call out to see if anyone answers.

Then the door slams shut behind you.





What happens next?

10 April 2014

Inch for Inch - A Museum of Haunted Artifacts #AtoZChallenge



If you have seen The Conjuring, you probably heard of Ed and Lorraine Warren.



And if you've seen the movie, you probably remember the scene where this reporter is asking Ed Warren about his haunted artifacts room.

I was pleased to find out that they really do have a museum of haunted artifacts like they show in the movie, including the Annabelle Doll (which turned out to be more of haunted Raggedy Ann doll than the doll shown in the movie).



The coolest thing of all, you can actually go on tours to go through their museum.

Although to be honest, as psyched as I am for this type of stuff, I'd be a little worried that I'd carry home some sort of evil spirit. With my kind of luck, I'm sure I would.

Would you visit the museum of haunted artifacts? Better yet, would you have something to contribute?

09 April 2014

Would You Stay in a [H]aunted House?



Following up my "have you ever seen a ghost" post from yesterday, it was only appropriate to start today off with the topic - haunted houses.

I've never been in a real haunted house before and to be honest, I knew I would be talking about haunted houses today, I just didn't know which ones.

I thought maybe the Amityville Horror house might be a good one (even though the story is fake), but that didn't feel right. The Conjuring house would have also been cool to talk about it, but considering a recent article I read about the family getting tormented by not ghosts, but Conjuring fans who snoop in on the house, I figured that would not have been cool to do (article - ).

So finally I thought...well, I wonder if it's possible to stay overnight in a haunted house?

You mean you've never wondered that?

Well, it's possible.

Click to see a bigger screen! Or visit HauntedRooms.com


I found the site - HauntedRooms.com and you can actually book a room in a haunted house and they have haunted houses from all over the United States.

In my local area, I would probably want to travel to Yachats, Oregon to stay at the Heceta Head Lighthouse - .  According to their website, it's haunted by a woman named Rue and is the wife of a past light keeper and her daughter fell on the cliffs nearby and died.

Would you stay in a haunted house? Which one would you like to visit?





Semi-Coma: Evolution of My Intermittent Consciousness - A Book Spotlight by Gluten Dye

 Title: Semi-Coma: Evolution of My Intermittent Consciousness
Author: Gulten Dye (Post prepared by Gluten Dye as well)

Publisher: Gulten Dye Publishing CompanyPages: 205Language: EnglishGenre: Self-HelpFormat: 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.

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