Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A New Year With an Old Twist

Well, here we are only a few days from 2010.

It seems like only yesterday (okay 40 years has passed) that my second grade teacher had us write an essay about what life would be like when we reached 40 and what the year 2000 would bring. Back in 1969 none of us kids believed we would ever be 40 or beyond.

My stories were about what I would be doing--I wanted to be a photo-journalist or a soccer player. Well neither of those predictions came true, but that's okay. My life, although sprinkled with some difficult times, has been mostly what could have been expected. A few lost loves along the way, some trying times with friends and family, people coming, going and dying, and finally many good moments to remember.

When I was younger, in my twenties, New Years Eve was a big deal. We would go and celebrate with friends, drink too much, and always, always continue the traditions that were started by my family. It didn't matter where I was or who I was with, at midnight I would kiss whoever was next to me and then crunch down on creamed herring nestled on a saltine cracker--a ritual started by my Bohemian grandmother for good luck. Sometimes I had to bring my own...

Now that I am older things have changed. Midnight doesn't seem as important as it once did. The friends and family I once celebrated with are now gone, but not forgotten. Now I spend a relaxing night at home with my wife and son, wait around until 9:00 when they shoot off fireworks in the senior community behind my house, and am in bed long before it officially becomes the new year. However, I still kiss my wife and have some herring on a cracker for good luck, I just do it earlier.

I hope you all have some traditions that you keep going too...how about sharing them?

Since this blog is about acts of kindness, let's get to one. I wasn't looking for anything special to happen this week, most people are just too busy with themselves to even know others are still around. I was pleasantly surprised when I went onto facebook this morning and had an e-mail from a group I belong to "Get Your Blog Followers." It went on to say that I was a featured blogger this week and asked for the group to come by and read my last post about a past Christmas. Talk about being taken aback and humbled...

Thanks for the mention and the new followers that have been generated because of it. See even when you don't look for things to happen, sometimes they do. That is what I call a "genuine random act of kindness."

Look, a whole post without talking about my book...oops, I screwed that up. Well, if you like my stories here you should go to http://www.amazon.com/ and buy "Sensitivity 101 for the Heterosexual Male." Or at least go to http://www.philipnork.com/ and read the reviews it has been getting.

I hope all of you have a great New Year, stay safe and remember what goes around comes around. By being able to give a random act of kindness, you will get one back sometime in the future. Until next Monday...


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Remembering a Christmas Past

Just sitting here thinking about the upcoming holidays and that led me to recall some of celebrations from my youth. As I state in my book Sensitivity 101 for the Heterosexual Male "even though people were more communicative back in the day, there were still secrets kept which would never come to life. People enjoyed sharing the good times together; for the most part they kept the bad to themselves."

Even though there was a time when we were a "real family" I don't remember any Christmas parties until after my mom and dad got divorced. I guess that could be considered a bad part on my journey of self discovery. But what I do remember afterward really emphasizes what the holidays should be all about.

Being from a split family, we were able to celebrate Christmas three separate times.

On Christmas Eve, my mom would help us kids get dressed in our best outfits and then drive us to her parent's house. After loading the car with small hand-made presents for our grandparents and aunt and uncle, the four of us would be off for the 1/2 hour ride. We would all sing Christmas carols when they came on the radio and would smile and laugh the whole way there.

Once there, we would anxiously await for everyone to get home from work, mainly my uncle. He worked downtown and always got stuck in rush hour traffic, even on Christmas Eve. But lo and behold, by 4:00 we were all there waiting for the time that us kids could open our presents. For the longest time it was just three of us, but eventually more cousins came along, which made the wait even longer. Although we never received many presents, and mostly got clothes, the actual opening of these presents became very enjoyable and actually helped me to understand that Christmas really is for kids.

Once all the gifts were opened, dinner was served. We had ham and turkey, stuffing and all the sides I grew up loving--green bean casserole, cranberry sauce and fresh baked biscuits. The smells of this Christmas dinner always made me smile.

After cleaning up, the four us would get back into the car and my mom would drive us over to our other grandparent's house. Even though the divorce had happened, they still loved us and wanted to see us every year. So my mom would drop us off, sometimes coming in to say hi, and then go back to her parents house. Here at "the other grandparents" we would meet our cousins, try to get to know each other again and on a few rare occasions, see our father. He had left when I was around 8 or 9 and went on his own journey of self discovery. Most times that didn't include us kids.

One of the best times I remember was the year he actually showed up. I was twelve and wasn't expecting to see him at all. We arrived after the rest of the family had eaten, as usual. When we walked in, there he was sitting on the couch. My little sister ran up to him and gave him a hug, while my brother and I shook his hand--like big boys do. The four of us sat and talked for what seemed like hours.

Then it was time for presents. Every year my grandfather would "get called into work" just after all of us arrived. He never was able to see "Santa" when he came through the door carrying a big bag of toys for us and for our 7 cousins. One by one, he would hand out a single present, which we would open youngest to oldest after Santa left for the night. By the time it was my turn, somehow Grandpa always had returned from work.

This year in particular I got a small box--in it about a dozen slides to use on a microscope. Unfortunately, I had no microscope. My dad saw the look on my face and reassured me, after I said that Santa must have made a mistake, that all would be well. Well he was right. The first big present I got from my grandparents that year was that microscope. I also realized for the first time that Santa wasn't really Santa at all, but my grandfather in disguise. I kept that secret from the younger kids. Again as I say in the book "I got used to keeping secrets as I grew up."

One of the kids got a toboggan from Santa and as all the cousins, except for me and my uncle, who was one year older than me, sat down on it a picture was taken. Everyone was smiling and laughing--I still have that photo.

Dad took us home that night and kissed us good-bye.

The next morning we opened more presents, this time from the real Santa (Mom) and then went to have leftovers at her parent's house. We would help Grandma make ham salad, from the leftover ham from yesterday. She also had a tradition--there were two times a year, Christmas and New Years Eve, where all the adults would have to eat a small piece of creamed herring on a cracker. At Christmas it was to remind us that not everyone had it as good as we did, even though we didn't have it all that well. And at New Years Eve it was to welcome in the new year and hope that all our wishes came true. That was the first time I was involved in this ritual...I had finally become an adult.

This is what Christmas should be all about.

Throughout my journey of self discovery I've kept this memory with me. Now that all the grandparents, and even Dad, are dead and gone I still remember that Christmas.

I vowed that my children would have holidays just like that one...and he has. Christmas really is for kids, but it's for adults too. It helps us get through the hustle and bustle of our lives, it helps us relax among friends, and it rekindles memories of days gone by. And even though Christmas has changed since when I grew up, I still find it is my favorite holiday of the year.

Here's hoping you and yours have a great Holiday Season..


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A New Review for Sensitivity 101 for the Heterosexual Male and a Random Act of Kindness All Rolled up in One

Well, another week has gone by and I'm behind the times again. I wanted to post this newest review of my book...another review with another opinion. It never stops amazing me how everyone who reads the book comes away with something new...guess that is a good thing. Here is part of the review.

"...A delicate and intimate coming of age story...I applaud the author for the originality of the story and looking back in a nurturing and humanizing way."
Read the whole review at Author Exposure.

I was looking very hard for a random act of kindness the whole week, but something strange happened. I couldn't find one. All week at work I searched, but all I found was that the Holiday season this year has brought out the worst of people. Fighting, yelling, and lack of manners actually was the norm. I was out of ideas and patience so didn't leave my house over the weekend.

That's when it happened. I woke up on Sunday morning to an e-mail, the one containing my review from above. After reading it I had found my act...

The last line of the review is "In fact, a change in the title and cover and the author could target a neglected topic within the young adult market."

Never in a million years would I have guessed that the subject of my book could actually be accepted by that audience. But after talking to a few parents who had read the book, I was more than happy to find out that they did indeed let their 16 years and older read the story. They said the message was one they wanted their kids to hear about, although some of content was more to an adults liking.

So I spent yesterday adapting a R rated book into a PG one (That's why I am late with this post.) I sent it to the same parents and already have recieved two thumbs up from one of them. The book now can marketed to the YA and Christian markets.

So I thank Author Exposure for a great review AND a new idea, along with a great quote to use on both my book covers when I redesign in January.

I guess there really are good people left in the world.

Till next week,


Monday, December 7, 2009

A Conundrum Appears

Today I will share with you my dilemna. Sensitivity 101 for the Hetrosexual Male is selling pretty well, actually way past my expectations. But as this continues something that I never anticipated has happened. The book was written as a way for me to express old memories and how they have shaped who I am today. I thought people would just read it, wonder if it could really be true and enjoy themselves for a few minutes as they read through my adventures. It was not written to "teach" anyone anything.

What has happened is that everyone who reads it comes away with a different meaning for it. I have heard from other children of divorce, all who connect with longing for acceptance and happiness. I have heard from some that only see the "sexual" part of the book, and I even have gotten an e-mail from a psychologist suggesting this was my way of letting go of repressed feelings.

Because of the diversity of responses, I am inclined to add a sub-title to my cover, along with a few quotes from reviewers. I want everyone to read my book and maybe a sub-title will open this opportunity. What do you think?

Sorry about the ramblings, so on with a random act of kindness. This weekend I never made it out of my house. Holiday decorations, cleaning and just too busy with other things--like laundry. That's right I do the laundry, every Sunday as I watch the football games on TV. Well this has been going on for years, but this time something was different. After 5 loads of washing and drying, then putting away everything, and putting the decorations up, and putting away the groceries, and changing the water in my son's fishbowl, my wife came up to me, gave me a kiss and said thanks...

Talk about a random act of kindness. I feel a little special and appreciated again. See just a thank-you can make such a difference...even from those that care the most about you.

Next week I'll talk about some of the things in my introduction of Sensitivity 101 for the Heterosexual Male...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sensitivity 101 Holiday Press Release

Just thought I'd add this for you to see. I sent this to local radio stations, newspapers and am putting up in coffee shops, etc. Normally I donate 10% of my profits to The Children's Miracle Network, in December it will be 25%. Care to help? Just buy a book and you have helped! Thanks...

The Season of Giving Should Be Twelve Months Long!

Author Philip Nork (www.Philipnork.com) believes we don’t only need to think about giving when the festive season rolls around and Christmas is coming to mind. With the help of his book buying public, the first time author wants to do it all year long.

“As I stated in my book Sensitivity 101 for the Heterosexual Male, I believe that life should be a simple experience—you learn, you share, and you help others.” Philip added. “Why wait for December to be generous of heart and soul when you can do so every single day?”

Philip’s decision to support The Children’s Miracle Network (http://www.cmn.org) by donating a portion of the sales of Sensitivity 101 for the Heterosexual Male to his favorite charity reflects this belief. Out of all the charities, this was his first choice to get involved in.

“Ever since hearing about CMN I have always supported it. Children are our future and making sure they grow up healthy should be a concern of us all.”

Described as “Straightforward and refreshingly candid…an impressive presentation of a life with a plethora of helpful lessons to share” by Apex Reviews, this book has, since its August release, received rave reviews. If you would like to give a gift that gives twice over this Christmas, Sensitivity 101 for the Heterosexual Male, the tale of one boy’s early life lessons following his parent’s divorce, is one way to achieve that.

Available at www.amazon.com

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Random Acts of Kindness

Well I'm back...and so soon. Still trying to get the hang of all this. I said that I wanted to share random acts of kindness with you, but what is a random act of kindness? I think this explains it very well...

With a better understanding now, I would like to share something that happened today on my never ending journey of self discovery. I went to work, was extremely upset at some of the drivers of the world and wasn't all that happy. As soon as I entered my area, I had people smiling at me, laughing together and having a great time. It was about this time I realized that they had some Christmas music on the background and had just finished wrapping small presents for co-workers.

I didn't pay much attention until one of them came over, placed a bigger box in front of me and said, "This is from all of us here at Centennial CDS to you." I was not expecting anything as "the boss", but after opening the box and seeing something I would never have bought for myself--a beautiful rain resistant jacket--I actually found myself smiling and feeling better. These wonderful people who work under me, listen to my ranting and raving, and who I thought just tolerated me, got together in this difficult economic time, and thought of someone else--me!

I can't thank them enough for this gift. Not the jacket--it is nice though! But for the feeling of acceptance they let me feel. As I said in my book 'Sensitivity 101 for the Heterosexual Male' "there are two things that all humans desire: to be accepted for who you are and to be happy."

Today I feel both of them. Thank you CDS of Centennial Nevada for helping me get the holiday spirit back, and for the jacket!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Journey of Self Discovery begins again...

So here we go again...

With the holidays coming up quickly and my book "Sensitivity 101 for the Heterosexual Male" out and available, I needed to come up with a new vehicle to help get my message out.

As I say in the book "This life we live should be an easy one. There are only three things that should be focused on-learning, sharing, and helping." So going forward, hopefully every Monday, I will "teach" and "share" with you the chapters of my book and the lessons that they have. And then I will also try to include some real life acts of kindness I encounter throughout the week. I hope this allows you to see how we do indeed "help" others.

The first thing I have to tell you about is that 10% of my profits are going to a wonderful organization, The Children's Miracle Network. When I started working for a company that is deeply invloved with Costco Wholesale, I learned about this charity and fell in love with the idea. CMN helps raise needed revenue for children's hospitals in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Ireland and Australia. I believe that "children are our future and that their health should be all of our concern." So each quarter when I recieve my royalty check the first thing I do is write a personal one to this charity. It feels good to help others when you can. And you as my readers are doing your part just by buying the book.

In fact for the month of December, I am donating 25% of my profits to this organization. So give the gift that actually gives twice as much. We all know a book lasts far longer than a box of chocolates.

I also want to share with you how my acknowledgements page came to be. I have learned a great deal from the people that I have met in my life. Some of the most important ones were the "actual girls (now ladies) that influenced the characters" of Sensitivity 101 for the Heterosexual Male. Without them I would not be the person I am today. On the start of this journey I sent some bad manuscripts out to some very understanding editors who all told me "This is bad...can't help you...are you sure you are a writer?" Their rejections just made me work harder and prove them wrong. Thankfully an editor, Cliff Carle, came along and saw the "talent" that was hidden by my lack of writing skills. With his patience and teaching I was able to pick up this thing called writing and lo and behold found out I was indeed a writer, I just needed to develop this talent.

All of these people taught me something, shared their individual expertise with me and were able to help me on this journey...and know I can help the people of CMN when you buy my book. See how the circle works?

That's enough about the book this time. Now let me share a story that happened to me on a plane trip recently from Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada.

I was sitting in the waiting area, and man was it crowded! There were only a few empty seats and none together. There was an empty seat next to me and across from there was another one next to a very pretty lady. I was "reading" my book and she saw the title so we started talking. About 10 minutes before loading the plane an elderly couple, probably both in their eighties, strolled into the waiting area looking for a place to sit. As they got closer to me, I politely stood up and offered them the two seats together. As they thanked me, the pretty lady (Kelly was her name) asked me to sit next to her. We continued talking about my book until we were told to "line up."

I am a frequent flyer and always use the airline that has no assigned seats. Being that I fly so much I am always one of the first ones on the plane. This time was no different and in fact Kelly was also right behind me in line.

So I entered the plane, found an aisle seat and sat back waiting for all the others to come on board. Kelly also found an aisle seat right in front of me and did the same. Slowly, very slowly, the plane started to fill up--so much so that when the last two people entered the plane there were only 2 empty seats available. One up front, the other way in the back. As luck would have it the same elderly couple I ran into before were the last two people on board.

The seats next to me were taken, but the seat next to Kelly was one of the empty seats. I saw her slowly get up as she saw the couple enter the plane and she waited until they were right next to her when she said, "Here take my seat, the one in the back is too far away, and besides I wouldn't want to split up such a lovely couple."

As the couple once again gave thanks for a friendly person, I opened my bag which contained extra copies of my book. I reached in and pulled out a hardcover copy, autographed it, and handed it to the flight attendant to give to Kelly after take-off.

Much to my surprise the flight attendant addressed what had happened over the intercom...long story short--Kelly got a free book and I was able to sell 50 more thanks to the flight attendant.

Once again, the circle of one good turn deserves another, worked it's magic...

So that's how this will work. I will talk about a chapter from "Sensitivity 101 for the Heterosexual Male" and then share a "good deed" that I encountered from the week. I look forward to your commnets and your experiences, remember we are all in this together!

I hope we can all learn, share and help together!

Till later, Phil