Carina Gonzalez Photo
When does a personal biography begin? With the story of your grandparents? Great grandparents or before even that? I always return to the story of my mother, Frances May Beckett, and my father, Zdzislaw Zajaczkowski. That story begins on September 1, 1939 when Hitler invaded Poland. My father, 24 years old, was in the Polish military, and my mother, 16 years old, worked as a shop girl in Lincoln, England. While the war would tear the world apart, it would also bring my parents together. My father escaped Europe and made his way to England where he joined the RAF and worked on a bomber base of the 303 squadron outside of Lincoln during the Battle of Britain. He and my mother met at a dance held off base, during the heady days of intense romancing amid air-raid sirens, heavy cigarette smoke, and big band music. She fell in love with the dashing foreigner in the crisp RAF uniform.
Fast forward to 1957, my parents had emigrated to Southern California, and I was born on December 17, 1957, at 6:30 p.m. My mother loved to tell the story of when she awoke and heard Christmas carolers singing outside her room. She thought she had died and gone to heaven. I lived in the San Fernando Valley most of my life (a long story, as all our stories tend to be), and I graduated from UCLA with a degree in psychology. Later, I received my master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from Antioch University, Los Angeles. I decided not to pursue a career as a therapist, however, and moved into business coaching and training instead. I continue to work part-time in that field and have wonderful clients throughout the world—one in Warsaw, Poland, of all things.
Quick story about my coat of arms. In the mid-nineties, I reconnected with a cousin on my aunt’s side. That led to my first and only trip to Poland to visit my father’s surviving brother and sister—the same siblings the war tore him apart from. He never saw them in Poland again. This reunion was one of the great trips of my life. That first night, sitting in the tiny living room with my uncle Joseph, we gazed at the fire and at ourselves, both overwhelmed with emotion. He couldn’t speak English, nor I Polish, but language wasn’t necessary. Sitting on a couch, in the dim glow of a lamp, he simply took my hand, looked up at me and wept. Later, he shared some amazing photographs with me and reverently gave me a tattered booklet that had this coat of arms on it—our families coat of arms. The word underneath it was Prawdzic. I asked my aunt what it meant, and she said, “Truth.” I was quietly stunned: all my life, I’ve been drawn to the truth, and to think that I found it in that cozy living room in my father’s hometown.
While I’ve published books under a business name and even one anonymously, this is the first time I’m publishing under my true name, Michael Zajaczkowski—or Michael Z to my friends and family. This is a wonderful new journey for me, a rebirth and reclamation of my ancestry and of my life going forward. I’m grateful to finally have the time to write the books that have spoken to me throughout the years, and I’m excited to share them with all of you. I hope the truth that speaks to me, speaks to all of you as well.
“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.
“The first recipe for happiness: Avoid too lengthy meditations on the past.”
“Age will take care of your ego.”
“Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”
I love quotes like these and have collected them for years. If you enjoy these types of quotes, and would like to receive one each Wednesday, then sign up for free.