Collecting Memories - "I Am From" - Based on a Poem by George Ella Lyon
This past month, I ran across a poem that was written by George Ella Lyon, called "Where I Am From". If you follow the link, you will read how surprised she was by how this poem has captured people's imagination and desire to tell their own version of "I Am From". It has been used for family reunions, for classrooms all across the country.
So, I had to try it myself. At the end, I have included a link to a template so you too can share your own "Where I'm From".
My Childhood Years
I am from a frustrated angry mom.
From screaming and hitting.
I am from a cold drafty farm house,
With bare floors and thin plastic curtains.
I am from the wild dandelion, unwanted but growing anyway.
And I am also from the lilac,
Common but sturdy
Leaving behind a sweet afterglow.
I am from a large family with few happy traditions,
To my own family trying to make a new way.
I am from cruel demeaning comments and physical punishment
To unconditional love.
I am from a world where girls were to clean and cook
To “I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar.”
I am from Sunday Mass and reciting the rosary every night on our knees,
I am from a small community of strong German Catholics.
From meals made up of little meat but lots of potatoes and Johnny Cake on Fridays.
From a dad who died young;
A man who loved to sing and dance.
Pictures of a farm, a river, and random happy stories of a dance hall.
All stored safely now on my computer,
And looked at whenever I need to remember where I am from.
Now Wait A Minute!
After writing the first one, I was haunted by the images and felt as though this one version did not truly describe everything about where I'm from, so I wrote the next one.
My Parenting Years
I am from laundry,
From cleaning every Friday, and never being very good at cooking!
I am from many houses but only one that felt like HOME -
Small but cozy, sounds of little feet running across upstairs floor boards.
I am from maple trees,
The ones that shield the swing set -
Green and full in the summer
Then bursting into glorious colors of orange and red and yellow in the fall.
I am from Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas morning presents.
From two beautiful daughters and tabby cats.
I am from teaching and working still more at our store,
But making the time to get them to swim lessons, dance lessons, and softball.
I am from the “Women’s Liberation Movement” and college degrees
Which collided with “I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan
And never, ever forget he’s a man!”
I am still from church on Sunday but no more rosaries.
I am from middle class American,
Where all my neighbors were my kids babysitters.
Hamburger Helper and Dairy Queen.
From a father-in-law who loved his granddaughters;
Who taught them to blow the paper off the straw,
Pretend to smoke french fries dipped in catsup,
And play “Guess the Color” while splashing water in the face of the lucky winner!
I am from being the one who saves all the stuffed animals:
A panda pillow with it’s eyes ward off from so much use, a dog named Grandpa, and a beanie baby collection embarrassingly big -
All stored safely in plastic tubs and moved from house to house for that day
When my daughters will want to remember where they are from.
Still not satisfied that the two were actually telling the full story, I wrote yet one more. This one is about today because I am not just about my past. So right now, this is the most current version of where I'm from but it probably won't be the last!
And Now Today!
I am from a well warn chair
That looks out at bird feeders and a nature preserve.
From listening to the messages of the squirrel, and raccoon, hummingbird and deer.
I am from a little place now,
But with a view of a glorious world.
I am from fields of wild flowers, not just a dandelion,
The deep woods
That provides protection for the animals...
And for me.
I am from appreciation of the theater and great wine.
From two daughters, my best friends.
I am from a connected world
That allows me to share my thoughts.
I am no longer from church on Sunday but I surely believe in a higher power
Where "Amazing Grace" has a whole new meaning in my life.
I am from attempting to let go of fear and guilt.
Fruits and vegetables have replaced the potatoes.
Still not much meat but now by choice.
I am from many people who died too young;
Who left behind so many great lessons that I am finally appreciating today.
Pictures now are celebrations of life, and appreciations for what is;
No longer hidden away in a box or lost in a computer file,
But shared instantly to my internet world,
Because now I am from enjoying the moment...
And believing in a healthy, happy journey into tomorrow.
Powerful Use Of The Poem
I Am From Template
If you are interested in trying this poem yourself or using it with others, here is a link to the template that I followed. This activity has given me a great deal of satisfaction. Enjoy