“Poem Fun”

My favorite kind of people send me emails with the subject line, “Poem Fun.” (Heck, my favorite kind of people send me (non-work-related) emails at all. I used to spend hours writing letters to my friends and penpals as a kid. I spent even more hours in high school and college writing emails to my friends. Now it’s all a thing of the past. How strange. But I digress…)

Last week one of my oldest and dearest friends sent me a fun little exercise, which she learned about at the conference she was attending. 

The exercise is to write a poem called “I Am From.” It comes with instructions/prompts for how to get started, and I knew I was going to love it immediately. She knew I would, too, which is why she sent it to me in the first place. It challenges you to recall items and memories from your childhood, and given my affinity for nostalgia, this one came to me pretty quickly. 

Maybe you don’t feel like taking the time to write out your own version or share it, but I’d challenge you to consider each of the prompts below as though you were planning to write your own! It’s kind of incredible what comes to your brain and the things that impact your life at such a young age. 

If you want to give it a shot, here’s the fun template!

I got pretty into this, so I broke a few rules and added some lines, because that’s just what I do. 

If any of you parents out there ever doubt the little things you’re doing to make your kiddos’ childhoods memorable, this should be proof that all those little things truly make them who they are. 

Thanks, Em, for this fun writing challenge! And thanks to my mom and dad for all the inspiration. 

Hope you’ll enjoy my version…

I Am From

I am Hayley. 

I am from the shaggy carpet of a three-bedroom home and the handmade balance beam in the yard. 

From cherry blossom glitter body spray and Avon lipstick samples. 

I am from bright blue window shutters and sponge painted walls. 

And falling asleep on oversized pillows watching late-night episodes of SNL and Saved by the Bell marathons with my brother. 

I am from a lake. 

Whose muddy depths would seep through my toes and pepper my childhood memories. 

I am from books of poetry and arts and crafts. 

From Ralph and Tami. Geraldine and Roy. Dude and Ethel May.

From laughing so loud that people recognize me from rooms away, and from singing at the top of my lungs. 

From playing board games until midnight and watching scary movies for fun. 

I am from two-stepping with my grandpa. 

From singing Girl Scout songs around a campfire. 

I am from egg tosses at annual family reunions in west Texas, and beef jerky and Shasta on the boat. 

From grandma’s chocolate pie and mom’s made-from-scratch beef and noodles. 

From the last hand squeeze of my Aunt Shirley. 

And from singing in nursing homes with my brother and grandpa every Christmas. 

From Velveeta cheese dip and Schwan’s deep fried pizza rolls. 

From craft shows and live theatre. 

From seeing tears fall from my parents’ eyes as my entire family watched fireworks light up the sky while Tinkerbell flew across Disney World when I was eight years old. 

I am from my family. I am from my friends. 

I am from the moments that made me smile. And the moments that broke my heart.

I am Hayley.

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