Defining Moments: Helping Others ‘Grow Forward’

Michele Sfakianos, RN, BSN

When I was in my twenties, I enjoyed writing poetry. And then I had children, which left no time for anything!

Fast forward to two young adults and my desire to make sure they had the skills to live on their own. This gave me another chance at writing. It all started when my daughter came to live with us and soon gave birth to my first grandson. They lived with us for about five years.

I know what you are thinking — five years! As parents, many of us tend to “enable” our kids by taking care of them for too long. I call it helping! In many situations we don’t include them in household chores, taking care of the finances, or learning to take care of themselves. Sure, they learn the basics, or do they? Don’t get me wrong, my daughter helped around the house, but the old saying, “if you want something done right the first time, do it yourself,” came into play many times.

When I was a young adult, I didn’t know I needed to change the air conditioner filter once a month. In fact, there were many things I didn’t know you needed to do on a regular basis. My mother or father did all of this and I was never included. So, when my daughter was ready to move out, I started working with her and making a list of daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc., things that needed to be done in the home.

I was telling a friend of mine about it and she encouraged me to write a book. Her son had just been in a horrible motorcycle accident and he would need to learn basic life skills all over again, so she welcomed this type of book.

I did my research on life skills courses and found that many high schools no longer taught basic life skills. In fact, I found several high schools that only taught life skills courses to those NOT going away to college. This made no sense to me. Many students go away to college — some out of town and some out of the country — so wouldn’t they need to know how to take care of themselves?

I looked into writing a book and found a publishing company online that I thought would help. Needless to say, it didn’t work out well, and I was out several thousand dollars. I researched what it would take to self-publish. I read many self-publishing books, spoke with self-published authors, and decided I could do it with a lot of faith and a little tenacity. I contacted the publishing company and was able to sever ties with them and rebrand my book (new title, additional content, new cover, etc.), and Open Pages Publishing got its start in 2010.

The content of my books is derived from personal experiences, whether by myself or my daughter; from my experience as a Registered Nurse; and from John Maxwell, coach, speaker, and trainer. The genre of the books is self-help, parenting/step-parenting, teens, and personal growth.

I even wrote two children’s books about my first grandson. Those were fun, but not my passion.

To date, I have written and self-published 16 books and have recorded two personal growth CD sets. I recently started my own podcast called “Open Pages Podcast.”

I am continuously looking for ways to help others to “grow forward” in their life.

(Editor’s Note: Defining Moments is a new series in SCOOP to give you, our press club members, a forum for sharing highlights from your career. Please share your Defining Moments story for an upcoming edition of SCOOP by emailing your article of 400 to 750 words to, attention Karla Wheeler.)

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