Tuesday, December 25, 2007

I Need Your Stories about Lessons You Learned from Your Mothers, Fathers, Sisters, Brothers and Family Members

I am writing a series of Electronic Books (Books that will be published on the Internet):

  • Lessons from Our Fathers
  • Lessons from Our Mothers
  • Lessons from Our Children
  • Lessons from Our Sisters
  • Lessons from Our Brothers
  • Lessons from Our Grandmothers
  • Lessons from Our Grandfathers
  • Lessons from Our Friends
  • Lessons from Our Teachers

If you would like to tell your story, send me an email at TellYourStory@charter.net (see my other posts for additional details and an example of my stories.)

Let's start a community where we share the wonderful lessons we learned from our family members.

Jeanette Szwec

Friday, August 31, 2007

Father's Day Tribute - The Lesson I Learned from My Dad

John came to the United States as a Ukrainian immigrant when he was 14 years old. Unable to speak English but willing to do anything to succeed, John learned the language, became a barber, and opened up his own business in the small town of Clifton Heights, PA. He put two daughters through college and one through medical school during a time when most people thought that women didn’t need an education and that they should be satisfied getting married and having children. He had his faults but he gave us values and ambition – a mighty combination. But this story doesn’t really start until my father was 60 years old.

I was preparing to get married and my father was attempting to practice the polka, a must at any Ukrainian wedding. But he couldn’t do it! He had lost significant mobility in his leg and was soon diagnosed with a brain tumor. One surgery later, this energetic, hard-working man was forced to retire as a result of significant paralysis in his right arm and leg. My Dad had always worked two jobs and spent his spare time working around the house. Now his life came to a screeching halt. Yet never once did he complain. He bought rubber balls for physical therapy and spent his days trying to regain his hand mobility by squeezing those balls over and over. A few years later, fate threw him another curve ball. He was diagnosed with a recurring brain tumor.

I will never forget the day I went to visit him after his second brain surgery. Smiling as always, he chatted pleasantly in the hospital room until a nurse flew into the room, waving her finger at me, and yelling, “You better tell your father to stay in bed. He is paralyzed and will never walk again. He needs to stop trying to get out of bed and accept the fact that he can’t walk now or ever. Every time I walk out of his room, he tries to get out of the bed and then falls on the floor. I am sick of picking him up and you better warn him to stay put!”

With that, she steamed out of the room, thinking she had dealt with her problem patient. My father smiled, put his arms behind him on the bed to brace himself, and immediately tried to lift himself out of that bed. He spent a great deal of time on the floor that year, but he eventually got up and walked. He never sprinted across a room – it was more a will that propelled half of his body forward and dragged the other half to catch up.

My father lived nineteen more years after that second brain surgery. He bought himself a motorized scooter and spent years zipping around the streets of Philadelphia. He was proud, free, and always smiling.

My Father’s Lesson: My father planted a belief deep in my heart that taught me to never give up. No matter what misfortune comes your way, shove it aside and go for your dreams. Go for it and never give up. This is the lesson my father taught me and I then taught my son.

My dear, sweet father died at age 89 in a nursing home. He was sharing a room with a man who was blind. When the blind man dropped something, my father leaned over to help him pick it up, lost his balance, and hit his head. To the last minute of his life, he was reaching out to others.

Dad – I Will Never Give Up on My Dreams


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Lessons From Our Fathers June 14, 2007

I am in the process of writing an E-Book, Lessons from Our Fathers, that will be a compilation of stories that people submit about their fathers. I am looking for people who want to contribute stories about the life lessons they learned from their fathers - stories about how to be loving, how to succeed in life, how to be happy, or any other lessons that were learned from their fathers. Stories should be less than 1500 words and each story should focus on one primary lesson.

Every story should include a summary of the lesson with the names you would like to appear in the book and a summary of the primary lesson learned.

As an example, for my father, it would be:
John Szwec - Never Give Up on Your Dreams, submitted by Jeanette Szwec

Even though I might not be able to include all stories in the E-book, I will publish all of the lines with the name of the father, the primary lesson and the submitter. In addition, all contributors (whether or not they are included in the E-Book) will have an opportunity to act as an affiliate when the book goes on sale. This means that each contributor can officially sign up as an affiliate (I will give detailed instructions at that time) and make a commission of 50% of all profits for any books they sell to their own friends or acquaintances (profits is sales price minus the small charge the affiliate site charges for handling the transaction).

Since this is an E-Book, each contributor must agree to two things:
  1. to accept any editing that I do to their story with my promise that it won't substantially change their story, but might change some of their words.
  2. to accept that they will give up all rights to the story, so I am free to publish it in an E-Book or hard copy book.

Don't let any fear you have about being a writer stand in the way of your submitting a story. My staff has experts on writing, and we will take what you send and make it work. My primary interest is in hearing your stories, honoring our fathers, and sharing our histories with each other.

Please send your stories to:


Please List "Father" in the Subject Line. Please include contact information:Name, email address, phone (optional - only used to ask questions about the story)

I am also preparing an E-Book, Lessons from Our Mothers, so feel free to tell me a story about your mother also - just make it a separate email with the word "Mother " in the Subject Line.

Below you will find the Introduction to the E-Book, Lessons from Our Fathers. It should give you a better idea of what this book is about.

Introduction to Lessons From Our Fathers:

I started this book around Father’s Day – a time of year we all reflect on our fathers and the role that they played in our lives. Some of us have happy memories and some sad, but we all have lessons we learned from our fathers. If you were lucky, you had a chance to see values and actions that gave you courage, hope, self-confidence, joy, and a path for your own life.This book is about our stories – about the lessons we learned from our fathers. They didn’t need to be perfect or saint-like. They passed these life lessons on to us by the way they lived their lives, by the way they fought through their own challenges and came through a better person, and by the way they taught us to challenge ourselves.Fathers aren’t necessarily the father listed on a birth certificate. People can come into your life and pick up the banner of “father” and be that father figure to you when your biological father could not or would not play that role. This book is about all the men that stepped up to the challenge of being a father in someone’s life. This is my story, but even more, it is the story of thousands of contributors who want to honor the fathers in their lives.

If you have any questions about submitting your story, just send an email to TellYourStory@charter.net and I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.I hope to have all stories compiled by July 15, 2007 for the Lessons from Our Fathers E-Book. I will be asking for more stories about your other family members in the future, so keep checking this blog. I will also post some of your stories here, if you give me approval to do that. Thank you very much for helping me honor fathers everywhere. I know my Dad shaped my life and I miss him each and every day.

Jeanette Szwec

My Dad, the Barber, and me

My Dad, the Barber, and me