Where are you from?
Close your eyes and think back to your childhood home or somewhere you felt safe as a child – picture yourself there – think about what you are doing, seeing, and hearing. What toys are you playing with? What will you be eating for dinner? What sounds do you hear?
This is an activity we were asked to do recently, before we completed a fill-in-the-blanks poem (Mad Libs style) entitled “I am From”. The task was part my most recent board meeting for Girls on the Run, Utah. GOTR is an after-school youth empowerment program for 3-8th grade girls that inspires them to be joyful, healthy, and confident, and weaves in practice for a 5K run. The poem was a preview of part of the coaches training for our 12-week spring program. We want the coaches to think back to their childhood and try to put themselves in the shoes of the girls we teach. We want to help them remember what it is like to be 8 – 13 years old, with all the hopes and dreams, strength and vulnerability, concerns and joy that comes with it.
After closing our eyes and taking ourselves back to our past, we were given 5 minutes of quiet to complete our poems. Then we read them aloud to the group. We smiled as we recognized similarities of people having played with the same toys as us, enjoyed the same food, or partook in similar family traditions. We absorbed the information and learned a little more about each other, where we came from, and what makes us unique. As I read my poem I felt a lump in my throat, and it seemed many of the others experienced the same reading theirs. The poem transported us back in time to the children we once were.
I believe the idea to include the poem in the coaches training stemmed from a poem written by George Ella Lyon called ‘Where I am From”, which can be read here. Many people have taken this poem to write their own versions you can read one here and here. (The final link includes a template to write your own).
I was touched by writing my poem, so I expanded mine to include more memories and experiences. I would love to read some similar poems from those I know. It can be fun to recall these childhood memories with your parents, siblings, and friends. The poem could make a great gift for your parents on Mother’s or Father’s Day.
Where are YOU from?
“I Am From” by Lydia Kluge
I am from a red brick house with black Tudor beams,
from a garden filled with bright flowers, fruit bushes, and a roaming tortoise,
I am from a magnolia tree with soft white and pink petals,
whose limbs and branches felt so familiar as we climbed and swung from them,
and from a silver birch in which my Dad built us a tree-house, with small rectangular steps and rope handrails.
I am from furry teddy bears and comforting muslin cloths called ‘fluffies’,
from playing on our slide, climbing-frame, and swing-set,
(on summer’s evenings in pajamas after bath-time – just a little longer before we go to bed),
I am from blue plastic billy bumpers, from trikes, bikes, and roller-skates – round and round on the concrete path,
from shiny conkers and piles of crisp fallen leaves,
and from my Dad mowing the lawn with his push mower.
I am from laughter, conversations, bike bells, and cat meows,
from revving engines and shiny cars,
I am from Bob Marley’s reggae, Motown, and popular hits – cheerful music filling the kitchen,
from my Mum singing as she returned from work and cooked us meals,
and from dancing with my sister in front of the TV to the weekly edition of ‘Top of the Pops’.
I am from summer camps and guide camps, new activities and sleeping in tents,
from bunk beds and bed time stories – our Mum sitting in a chair by our side,
I am from homework and solving problems, from paper-rounds and black ink covered fingers,
from family bike rides and walks at Nonsuch park, collecting pine-cones for my Granny’s fire,
and from finishing each activity with a warm cup of tea.
I am from Christmas meals with lots of dishes and even more people,
from warm buttered crumpets, pasta (my brother’s favourite), and roasts every Sunday,
I am from my Grandmother’s crispy potatoes and my Grandfather catching our hand in his,
from home-grown fruits and vegetables, lovingly peeled and chopped, and made into crumbles or homemade ice-cream,
and from playing board games and cards after dinner with family and friends (my competitive nature coming out).
I am from school uniforms – grey striped ties and navy checked kilts,
from shiny red gym shorts winning relay races,
I am from crossing a road with a friendly lollipop lady and running for green buses,
from driving to see relatives – summers with our Aunt and Uncle: country walks, dogs, piano,
and fun at the beach with our Cousin – sandcastles, donkey-rides, Granddad’s tricks and Nana’s fig tree.
I am from Sherwoods and Knights,
from travel overseas and seeking adventure (torpedoed boats, new jobs, new lives),
I am from hardworking and tenacious, stoic and strong,
from make do and mend, and humble and selfless,
and from morning cheeriness “Wake-up girls, it’s a beautiful new day!”
I am from too sensitive and curbing my teenage quick tongue & temper,
from learning, growing, thinking, and reflection,
I am from a family who is kind, loving, welcoming, and tall,
from “The more the merrier” – shared meals and bringing people together,
and from these moments when family and friends become one.