Monday, February 22, 2010

Book Review-Musical Chairs

Last week I was sending out requests to other authors seeing if anyone wanted to review my book Sensitivity 101 for the Heterosexual Male and was pleased when Jen Knox replied back to me. Jen asked if I wanted to do a cross promotion--one where she read my book and I read hers. Since I had never done that before, and it sounded interesting, I agreed. So, here is my act of kindness for this week--my first book review.

In Musical Chairs by Jen Knox, we get to see the honest and painful story of one girl's past. As you learn about her running away from not only her family, but in reality from herself for a while, you can feel the pain she suffers. As she tries to fill the void, she falls into other vices--bad relationships, friendships that don't work out, alcohol, drugs and becoming invloved in the less than perfect occupation of stripping--and it is a wonder she feels the need to continune on. Not beng a woman myself, I can only imagine that other young girls feel the same things at times and hope that they take different measures in order to find themselves.

It is ironic that the way Jen "comes back to life" is through trips to visit her grandmother, who is slowly losing her own life to mental illness. And although at first Jen is apprehensive, these trips let her re-unite with the great-grandmother she never met and allows her to connect emotionally to her. Despite all this and her constant batlle fighting her own panic attacks, finally Jen is reunited with the family she once ran away from and reconciliation is complete for now. But I'm sure there is more to the story...

Honest, hard-hitting and sometime hard to believe, Musical Chairs is not your typical "feel-good" get lost for a few hours book. It is a real life, sometimes hard to read, book about recovery and inner self. The author bares her soul and allows the reader to see that not all is perfect about life, but that with hard work you can through most anything. You must credit Jen for her honesty and for being strong enough to let her story be known.

So there you have it, my first book review. Any comments, how'd I do?

Until next week


Friday, February 19, 2010

Memories and triggers...

As I get older I realize that no matter how different people may seem to each other, that no matter what your race, religion or opinions are and that no matter where you live we all share some things in common. Two of them are: the want to be accepted for who we are and more importantly the common drive to be truly happy. There is a third thing we all share, and that is MEMORIES.

Memories of good and bad, past people and places, and the roads you took to get you where you are today. There are certain things that trigger these memories for you--maybe it's the smell of your mom's homebaked apple pie that reminds you of her, or the scent that your dad had over him after changing the oil on your car. It could be a certain color that reminds you of the dress you wore at prom. Or possibly the memories start to flow as you look through old yearbooks or photographs of times gone by. Ot nowadays maybe it's the excitement you get re-connecting with past friends on Facebook or other social media.

I have three memory triggers. The first is aromas. I talk alot about them in my book "Sensitivity 101 for the Heterosecxual Male, Lessons Learned from the Faire Sex." The ones that "get to me" the most often are best quoted from my book, "The smells of Wisconsin which always filled the air start with fresh cut green grass, the charcoal scents of a hamburger cooked on an open campfire, and the brackish seaweed that lay on the beaches in the early morning...I hated the taste of mint, but loved the smell, so I would take the sprig out of my glass of lemonade and put it in my pocket so I could enjoy it later...Whenever the snell of rain came to the air--you know the smell--we would wait excitedly for the storm to hit. As soon as it did, there were the two of us out dancing in the downpour. Nana told me, 'Rain is the cleansing agent God sends to wipe away your sins.'

The second trigger surprisingly enough is sleep. People say I have a photographic memory, I don't forget a thing. Well I can "program" my mind before I go to sleep and whatever I set it for, comes alive once again. It's like I have a TIVO in my head.

Finally the third and most used trigger is music. My ten-year-old son always jokes with me saying, "Dad, what's wrong with you? You can remember every song lyric ever made in the 70's, but you can't remember what we had for dinner last night." I explain that certain music takes me back to when I was younger and that he'd understand some day.

From my earliest memory music was there for me. My grandfather would listen to old country music on a small portable transistor radio and that became my favorite music back when I was 4 and 5. Johnny Cash and Loretta Lynn were my favorites...but it also landed me the label of strange. Once school started I was able to change my listening to easy going music, the Temptations singing Up, Up and Away brings back fond memeories of Jenna and first grade. As I continued to grow, each memorable occassion had a song attached to it. Jim Croce, Billy Joel, Air Supply and finally Rod Stewart all have special places in my mind and in my book. Disco music really comes to mind as I learned who the "real me" was going to be.

So you see, memory triggers are all around you...learn to use them and to relax and enjoy the moment. The world we live in today is so fast and complicated that we tend to forget how easygoing and carefree life used to be, and should be again.

There is one song that brings this all together for me. I hope you enjoy this version of Jim Croce's Time In A Bottle.

Why not leave me some of your memory triggers?

Till Next week,


Thursday, February 11, 2010

What are Friends Anyway...?

Sorry I'm so late with this post...very busy week. We had rain here in Vegas and that throws everyone off. So my question this week is "what are friends anyway?" The dictionary states: Friend--a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.

Growing up as a boy of divorce there were many times I didn't feel as though I had a friend to my name. I felt as though many of my schoolmates didn't even know I was alive. But in Chapter 4 of "Sensitivity 101 for the Heterosexual Male, Lessons Learned from the Fairer Sex" I introduce you to Lisa and Sally.

These girls became my first real friends. Through the years others had moved on or moved away, but these two stayed in my life for a long time. As we grew older, we obviously changed both physically and emotionally. We developed our own very distinct opinions, yet we still managed to like and respect each other. The three of us remained together because we had accepted each other a long time earlier for what each of us brought to the table. We stayed friends through good times and bad and were always there every Saturday morning to encourage each other. I learned from Lisa and Sally that friendship is the most important thing you can have in yor life.

Now a mere 40 years later the idea of friendship comes up again. Remembering that back in the day I didn't think anyone knew who I was or that I even existed I am somewhat surprised--with the advent of social media like Twitter and especially Facebook--at what is happening.

Knowing that friends have an attachment to each other, I am amused, yet still very happy, to have befriended over 300 people who now know me. And in fact, what I have found is that over half of my "new friends" are actually ones that I went to grade school and high school with. Although some are older and others are younger, they all seem to remember me and my past. They even relate to and remember parts of my book that they may have been a distant participant in. I wonder where they were back when I really needed them as I grew up in what I thought was an isolated world.

Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and have these "friends" back then. Funny what time and aging do to people. It is so nice to re-connect with names from my past, and to realize that we all do matter, that we all do know more people than we think and that we are all connected in some way or another.

So whether you are an acquaintance, ally, associate, buddy, chum, cohort, colleague, companion, comrade, mate, pal, partner, playmate, sidekick or soul-mate of mine, I thank you.

And now, thanks to my book, I can also add well-wisher to my list "friends, fans, and followers." You can become a "fan" of Sensitivity 101... at

Whatever our relationship is or was or may be, I thank you for being there now on this part of my journey. This is my act of kindness this week.

It may seem weird for a guy, but this is one of my favorite TV shows of all times and expresses just how I feel today. Enjoy!

Till next week,


Monday, February 1, 2010




So why would I start with a video with no explanation? The name of this blog is One Good Turn Deserves Another, and nowhere is that more evident than in Chapters 2 and 3 of my book "Sensitivity 101 for the Heterosexual Male." 

In Chapter 2, I introduce you to "Nancie" a younger, shyer classmate. She was my second grade teacher's daughter who came to our classroom one day when her kindergarten class was off. At lunch that day I approached her and reached out to her as I thought she looked uneasy and lost. After accepting my friendship, telling me her name was Nancie with an IE and thanking me for making her feel comfortable in class, Nancie not only sat next to me the rest of the day, she promised never to forget my name.

As I say in the book
"Fast forward to my junior year of high school. I became a teacher's aide in a freshman English class. Two of my responsibilities had me sitting up front at the teacher's desk grading papers and taking roll every morning. It was the first day of a new semester and a whole new class of freshmen sat in front of me. I always felt uncomfortable meeting new people and this was no different. I felt like they were all staring at me.
When it came time to call roll, there were some names I couldn't pronounce properly, which made me more nervous than normal. I got through most of the names and then called out "Nancy Ann." From the back of the room a confident voice answered: "Hi, Phil. My name is Nancie, Nancie with an IE."
I looked up and immediately felt at ease. It was Nancie from second grade.
She smiled and said, "You told me not to forget your name and I didn't. After you finish roll why don't you come back here and sit next to me in this empty desk?"
After roll call I made my way to the back row.
Nancie shook my hand and said, "You looked uncomfortable up there. Remember how nice you were to me that day in grade school?"
"Thanks for returning the favor." I replied.
Our situations had been reversed, but the underlying message of this experience remained with me. As a result of my making the effort to reach out, even though it was a small gesture, when years later it was I who needed the help, miraculously it was there.

And in Chapter 3, "Julie D." makes her appearance into the book and into my life. She was a new girl in school, just moved from Wyoming, and couldn't find any friends. Finally after some soul-searching and a talk with my mom, I decided to become her one and only friend at school. We talked about auras, UFO's and far-away Wyoming. But then...

"A few months later, a very excited Julie came to school and told the class that her family was moving back to Wyoming. As the two of us discussed this on our way home, Julie said to me, "We're all so lonely. Thanks for being my friend. You made my time here a little better."
As she handed me her book about auras, and then a second one, she said, "I want you to have my book. It helped me find you and I hope it will bring you new friends. This other one is about trusting your feelings. My mom told me that someday we all may have to make big decisions and that your feelings will never lie to you. She said to trust what they tell you. Anyway, thanks again for being my friend."
When we got to her doorstep, I hugged Julie, watched her open the door, wave good-bye and disappear inside. I never saw or heard from Julie again.
Julie taught me that just because someone is different than you are does not mean they don't expect the same things in life as you do. A person may look different, you may not have their same beliefs, and sometimes they may even act a little strange, but we all want the same things: to be happy and accepted for who we are.

So what does that have to do with the video above? What it all means is that you should look at the little things that happen in your life--they may be signs from above--and not only learn from them, but remember them forever. It's funny how the things these two girls taught me so long ago continue to reappear in my life.

Till next week,