I Am From

I first saw “I Am From …” at Debra’s place a few weeks ago and loved it so much that I was determined to do it. It’s a fill in the blank writing exercise about your childhood. It sounds simple, maybe a little dull, but it’s sooo neat. Last week I gave it to my teenagers as a writing assignment. They wrote awesome essays that were incredibly encouraging to me as a mom. With their permission, I may share my children’s essays with you, at some point.

Finally last evening very late I finished mine. When I went to bed I wondered at first if I could sleep, with so many childhood memories stirred up and swirling around in my head. (But exhaustion prevailed– chuckle…) So here you are:

I Am From….

I am from thunderstorms and muggy nights and green-sky tornado warnings. From Cream of Wheat on school mornings, and White Castle burgers on Sundays and Dreft sitting on the washer when another new baby was on the way.

I am from the white parsonage next to the brick church surrounded by oak trees rustling in the breeze. I am from June bugs and fireflies on summer evenings. From oak tree whose acorns pelted unsuspecting friends from the leafy heights, from Four’O’Clocks that looked divine tucked in little girls’ hair.

I am from churchgoers and readers and baby-lovers, from Leonard and Marie and Hazel and Dale and Marvin and Julia. I am from inquisitive minds, and skillful hands, and loving hearts.

From “all things work together for good” and “ don’t wear those shorts– they’re indecent.”

I am from forever-Lutherans who believe you work hard and trust God for the rest of it. I’m from Nebraska farmers who survived a tornado and put baby chicks in the bathtub for safekeeping when the chicken house blew away. From Swedes and Norwegians and Germans.

From mom’s homemade pizza and granola and whole wheat bread. From “Aunt Edie” pancakes slathered with butter and powdered sugar. From whole milk straight from the farm where we petted the calves and they sucked our fingers with sandpaper tongues. From apples we got by riding a ferry boat and visiting an orchard ourselves.

From the grandmother who got kittens for me to dress and trundle in baby carriages when I visited each summer, from the grandfather who called me Emsie, and the other grandfather who farmed so full-bore that when he stopped he could fall asleep in the midst of the noisiest gatherings.

I am from Polaroids and Kodak Instamatics whose flash cubes blinded your eyes then were tossed in the trash. From black-paged photo albums where precious pictures were placed with loving hands, and family and faith were valued above all the rust-gathering trinkets that any amount of money could buy.


  1. Ahhh, Mary—you did a great job! It was a joy to read, and brought back lots of the same kinds of memories for me, too!

    It sounds like you had a wondeful childhood!


  2. Hey! For once I'm first! Well, this is the cooolest post! and I want to do one. Can you give me more details on how? Very great writing and even better would be to frame it. Soo cool!

  3. Wow! I guess I wasn't first….someone beat me while I was writing….foiled again!

  4. This is beautiful! And I could use your first paragraph in mine.

    I'm with cheerio's, where can I find that exercise?

  5. That totally rocked. I love it. I love it enough I might even try it. My favorite post this week of my whole blogroll.

  6. How awesome. I love this. It is very beautifully written. I can see your childhood in my mind's eye. Beautiful!

  7. Oh, I loved it! I wish there was where we all still WERE NOW! But you're doing a great job! 🙂

  8. Oh! I love this… great writing!!!

  9. Very sweet!

  10. Wow, how beautiful. Your childhood sounds wonderful.

  11. I think we must be from the same era. I did mine last year and I'm sure you can relate to it just like I did yours. Especially those dang square flashbulbs on the Kodak 110 instamatic. Here's my link to mine: http://lottakids1961.blogspot.com/2005/03/where-i

  12. I'm from Arkansas, but I can relate to almost everything about your childhood. All that goes into making us what we are today. I think I will borrow this for my post today. Thanks, Mary, for sharing, and you did a great job expressing yourself and setting a mood. 🙂

  13. Mary, that was wonderful! Very vivid images sprang out from your words. Beautiful.

  14. Mary, that's beautiful. You make me want to try that myself, though I couldn't do it the justice you did!

  15. I hope everyone who enjoyed reading this will do one of their own. It is soooo much fun!


  16. This is lovely. We come from very different places (literally and figuratively) and yet you made me see yours perfectly.

    Thanks for the nice comment over at my place.I LOVED Nancy Drew. My writing journal that I carry around with me features the cover of The Secret of the Old Attic.

  17. those shorts are indecent…! ahh, those were the days!

  18. I loved your I Am From! Thanks so much, Mary, for letting me know you wrote your own. I absolutely loved it, found it beautiful, and could identify with so much of it. I'll add your link to my post so others can find it, too, in the future.. Again–loved it, loved it! God bless… Debra

  19. This is my first visit to your blog… I linked over here from Cheerios….
    I read your "I am From" and after an hour, I couldn't help but do my own. Ty for the inspiration.
    Great blog.

  20. wow that is so cool….what beautiful imagery

  21. That was beautiful Mary.

  22. Just a note to let you know that I did one of these too. It was great fun, thanks for passing the idea along.

  23. I love this. What a joyous thing to read. Good to get to know you better.

  24. I'll be working on one this week. Thanks for sharing and inspiring me.

  25. This is fantastic! Thanks!

  26. Mary, I'm posting mine at my blog! Thanks for the link, sooooo fun! C

  27. what's the "fill in the blank" for the writing essay? I would like to do it too. My email is paulsfamily@cox.net
    I didn't know if I just edit yours or if you had a blank.

  28. Wow, very well written!

  29. The template I used can be found at http://www.swva.net/fred1st/wif.htm

    I got this from Loni at http://joyinthemorning.clubmom.com/joy_in_the_mor

    It was a fun writing exercise.

  30. Theat is so interesting. I think that is really cool. I would like to do one when I grow up. I have never seen anything like that before.

  31. Thank you for this. I did mine last evening and it was a wonderful experience. I posted it for today's entry on my blog..

  32. Love it! Thanks for the great idea.

  33. Oh – this is fantastic! A wonderful idea – eloquently expressed. I'm inspired!

  34. I like it! – Thanks.

  35. This was awesome! Thank you so much for posting this. Yes, I know I am too late to be in the contest, but I just wanted to thank you for this prompt. I loved doing this. 🙂

  36. Hi from INDIA !!


    It looks like "I am from" is still going strong!

    I discovered your site today and I am amazed by this post. How beautiful…I am not sure that words can even express how poetic this piece is.

    How about flip the coin…if you had to write a new post about this….

    "Where I am today" or "where I'm going"
    what images would that conjure up???

    Hmmm… anyways…I know this is severly late …but it never hurts to know yet again that this piece is incredible….thanks for the moment way over here on the flip side of the moon.

    It Would be lovely to have been licked by a cow as a child.
    Makes me realize how important these memories are for my children….inspiring


  38. christygriner says:

    I love this exercise. It was very insightful and fun. Thanks for taking the time to post it!

  39. what would be the outline for this poem?

  40. Hi,
    Thanks for the visit and comment. I really like your I am From poem too.
    I plan on visiting you again, real soon.
    Have a good weekend.


  1. […] I first saw “I am from…” done by Mary who is the truly wonderful writer at Owlhaven (you should all go visit her if you have not). It is a thoughtful writing exercise, sort of a MadLib with meaning, based on a poem of the same name by George Ella Lyons and adapted into something that seems to me somewhat more than a simple meme by Fragments of Floyd. […]

  2. […] 1. The original ‘I Am From’ format gives you a chance to write about the things and people around you that shaped you as a child. Here’s my last years’ ‘I Am From’. […]

  3. I Am From « says:

    […] 16th, 2007 by Belle Etoile I saw this over at a blog called Owlhaven a while back, and have since then wanted to try it out for myself (although I didn’t use a […]

  4. […] 30th, 2007 by bloginmyeye I have long been an admirer of Owlhaven’s I am from post. And while we were at the beach (and spending interminable hours in the car getting there), I […]

  5. […] 15th, 2007 by transplantingme i came across an “i am from” poem at owlhaven and thought i would try it. if you would like to create your own you can find the format at […]

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  8. […] is not an original exercise. I first spotted it on Owlhaven who had spotted it elsewhere and so on and so forth. Such is the way of the internet. But it struck […]