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Collecting Memories - "I Am From" - Based on a Poem by George Ella Lyon

Updated on March 27, 2013
jpesch1 profile image

Jane is a retired educator and now proud grandma. Writing has become a way to reflect on life's journey. Change is hard. Writing helps.

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".

I'm the little girl on the right.
I'm the little girl on the right.

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.

Photo taken approximately 1992
Photo taken approximately 1992

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!

May 2011
May 2011

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.

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

Comments

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    • jpesch1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jane Peschel 

      4 years ago from Currently living in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin

      http://www.georgeellalyon.com/where.html

      Try this website instead. Sorry for the frustration.

    • profile image

      Daphne 

      4 years ago

      this web site stinks I was trying to find where I am from

    working

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