Where I’m From

I don’t often play along with writing prompts and challenges, but this one caught my attention.

Brooke from A Gypsy’s Tale wrote her poem based on the poem of George Ella Lyon. Their poems are in the style of Dr. Seuss, but with a twist. They’re meant to be a creative life story using the prompt “Where I’m From.” You can read Brook and George’s poems here on Brooke’s post The Lion’s Lair.

Brad's Birthday

Me circa 1961

Where I’m From

birthed in Madison Wi
raised in Mclean VA
independence sought in Portland OR and Boulder CO
landing in Fayetteville AR
my tender roots started to grow
in the shade of a giant willow tree
nature's love nested in my heart
dormant until pain demanded action
I sprung forth like a shot
traveling the country near and far
finally a winter's rest in Portland OR
with self-exploration taking hold
then off to new adventures in Boulder CO
where the men did call and brothers we became
but death came knocking and changed the game
wanderlust took hold and fear went traveling
a weary traveler landed in Arkansas
with roots tenuous at best
too little water and soil
constantly pulled by restless feet

finally defeat layed down the law
at 50 the game became survival
slowly self-love took root
nurtured in compassion and care

Where I’m From – 2

I'm from willows and creeks, 
backyard retreats
riding bikes, badminton and croquet
childhood glee amid adult defeats
lost friends, isolation, and pain
solace in books, school, and work
with excellence the measure
I'm from generations of pain
locked in booze and depression
tendrils of love in booze and sex 
travel, parks, hiking, and a VW Camper
I'm from men's groups, soul searching quests
advanced in hiking, biking
photography, dancing, and play
then death came calling
roots pulled up again
I'm from fear and losses
responsiblity and survival
with no clear path forward
a hint of light grew in the dark
compassion and care leading the way

This is where my mind went. I didn’t follow the same pattern and rhythm as Brooke and George, but they’re two poems of where I’m from. Often, it seems like I’ve made so little progress to show for the many years of personal growth. In fact, I’ve come to believe personal growth and seeking became an obsessive trap for me, another way to seek approval in the world that judges us for performance. The most progress I’ve made is during the last few years when I stopped trying to improve myself and simply focused on loving myself. Finally, I feel hope and see whispers of progress, but the story is far from complete. And still, the best times are long past when I was simply playing and following my joy. Consistent joy has been missing for a long time.

I appreciate all the love and support that you show me. Writing and blogging have been a huge part of my life and healing in the last few years. Thank you. Much like an addict, I need much more social connection.

May your journey be filled with love and connection, Brad 


45 thoughts on “Where I’m From

  1. Brad. I am not even sure what to say because your words moved me so much and I am completely overwhelmed by them. Thank you for taking on this challenge and sharing these parts of yourself; you are truly inspiring. It was an absolute pleasure to read these poems and I feel honoured to have done so this morning!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. “The most progress I’ve made is during the last few years when I stopped trying to improve myself and simply focused on loving myself.” I really needed to hear this message, Brad. What if we are already here? It doesn’t matter how many years it takes or all the investments we’ve made, risks and failures lived through, and with all our striving. Yet, at the same time, it takes that intensity to find, perhaps, the relaxation in the evenness of the self in wellness – to find the gentleness of our breath as it is not forced or counted, just supplied. Thank you for sharing. You’ve inspired me, because sometimes I feel like I need to see more of this, what you have to offer, reflected in world.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Brad, everything about this post is beautiful and courageous. I love the poems; I felt such an ache and sorrow and raw honesty from them. Your words are so moving and incredibly powerful. Thank you for sharing this. It will stay with me.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I read your post, and Brooke’s too – the idea stuck with me and I wound up writing something based on this prompt as well! I enjoyed your post, and thanks for the inspiration 🙂

    – Lily

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Brad, this is, god…you tapped into something that showed a side of you I haven’t seen. What you wrote as a follow0up is equally as powerful. You are at a place where we all want to be. I’m sure it doesn’t always feel that way, but just to stop trying…just to stop fucking trying and just be, to love yourself enough to do that… such an inspiration. Thank you so much for taking a risk and sharing this.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Brooke. I actually like your and George’s more for the style and gentle hints at your lives. Mine is a full-on emotional barrage! I hope to remember your wise encouragement to quit trying and just be more. Thanks for the inspiration to write a life story/ poem.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hey. I’m a pre-graduate student of English Language Teaching and I’m teaching in a Young Prison to one student who likes to read. I’m working with a problem-posing pedagogy, and you have no idea how much your poem reminds me of my young student. I loved it, and I know writing this must have been hard, and… you are such an inspiration. Do you mind if I show it to my learner? I think this could help him move on and realize his life is not so different… and that he can aspire to write so well like you do, even inside the place he is.
    Thanks for sharing this.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. The poems reach deep places, far place. I envy the places you’ve been that I want to visit: Oregon and Boulder. But what really hits home is the part about self improvement being a way of seeking approval. “I stopped trying to improve myself and simply focused on loving myself.” That’s the new idea that’s been whispering in my ear lately. It feels like a foreign concept in some ways and exactly where I need to be. Thank you, Brad.

    Liked by 2 people

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