Where I’m From / a poem

I’m from a family of seven, all very different

We love more than is wise

I’m from parents married twenty-nine years

And a legacy I fear I’ll never live up to

 

I’m from a house as old as the hills

It was built by my ancestors and holds the mark of each generation

I know each creak in the wooden floor like a friend

And can always tell who is coming up the stairs by the sound of their footsteps

 

I’m from a childhood spent in a fort in the woods

Creating gourmet grass salads and mudpies with water from the creek

I’m from hay bale tag with my cousins

And playing Nintendo 64 with my brothers

 

I’m from weeklong trips to visit my cousins in North Dakota

A truckload of memories

14 hours spent in the topper, trying to sleep over the noise of the road

I’m from doing things I’d never let my kids do

 

I’m from a woman who wasn’t supposed to have another child.

I’m from my Daddy’s curls and my Mama’s mind

I’m from both of their eyes—greenish blue with brown specks

And a combination of their humor, dry and teasing

But mostly I’m from their lessons of honesty and generosity, learning to serve others

 

I’m from long nights in the barn bottle feeding a sick calf whose mama turned him away

And in the wee hours of the morning a part of me dies with him

Another loss we can’t afford, but it cost my heart the most

 

I’m from sweaty summer days chopping logs and piling firewood

Sometimes in the middle of a blizzard if winter’s lasted too long

I’m from learning how to drive machinery

And complaining when the work stretches longer than the daylight

 

I’m from a hospital waiting room, they all look the same

Drinking hot chocolate and lemonade and playing with toys that must be covered in germs

I’m from long trips to Madison—the Ronald McDonald House is my second home

Staying there was comforting because it meant my brother was being helped

 

I’m from hundreds of hours spent alone, reading and imagining

One more chapter turns into let me finish this book

I’m from adventures with Steinbeck and the Bronte sisters

Those around me wonder if I’m okay, but I’m lost in a different world and unaware of their concern

 

I’m from running from problems

Avoiding conflict

Crying if someone yells at me

I’m from arguing with those I love the most

And I’m from regret

 

I’m from a rollarcoaster of emotion; good days and bad days

I’m from existential crises, anxiety, and depression

I’m from seeking help and talking about my struggles

I’m from fear, but I’m from hope even more

 

I’m from a small school

I’m from leadership and clubs

I’m from playing basketball as a hobby, not a be-all-end-all

I’m from belonging everywhere yet nowhere

 

I’m from wondering, watching, seeking, listening

I’m from wanting and waiting

 

I’m from not being musical, artistic, or particularly athletic

But I’m from never turning away from a challenge

I’m from using my strengdths, even if they are not the most conventional

I’m from rearranging furniture and organizing closets for fun

 

I’m from writing down my thoughts and ideas

But I’m also from being too afraid they’re ordinary to share them with others

I’m from worrying about what others think of me

And I’m from hating how I look

 

I’m from working hard—it’s what my name means, after all

Third in my family to graduate valedictorian

I’m from perfectionism and wanting to be the best

I’m from realizing how temporary that satisfaction is

 

I’m from shyness

Brought about—I’m told—by strangers touching my hair when I was a child

I’m from that still happening to this day

I shudder when I’m touched, even from a friend’s hug

I’m from trying to overcome that

 

I’m from five years of homeschool

And trying to help my brother with math and English

I’m from realizing he helped me in more important ways

Like knowing how to be brave, sacrificial, and eternity-minded

 

I’m from frozen pizzas and cop shows on Friday nights

I’m from old traditions

And trying new things

 

I’m from traveling the world

Seeking new experiences and exploring different cultures

I’m from walking in the shoes of others, wanting to understand their perspective

And I’m from learning more about myself at the same time

 

I’m from family reunions where I don’t know many of the people there

I’m from a Grandfather who had 14 siblings

Lutefisk and lefse

I’m from Swedish jokes

 

I’m from a town without a movie theater, grocery store, or mall

The gas station is out of business half the time

I’m from social events at church

I love them but I always wished there was more dancing

 

I’m from excellent teachers

And I’m from average teachers

But I’m from learning something from each one

And thanking them for the lesson

 

I’m from tattoos and alcohol

Just enough to shock my parents

I’m from living in the moment

Sometimes with the purpose of avoiding the future

 

I’m from seeking peace

And strengthening my faith

A work in progress

I’m from learning to give myself grace

 

I’m from all of these things

And I can’t change, mourn, or hate them

I can only appreciate them

Because they have made me who I am

 


 

I got the concept for this poem from the professor of one of my elementary ed methods courses. It can help students (or anyone) consider their values and how their background and experiences have influenced them and shaped them into who they are today. I was inspired to create my own “Where I’m From” poem and decided to share it on my blog. I encourage you to try your hand at writing about where you are from!

Ten Pitfalls of New Year’s Resolutions (and How to Avoid Them)

We’ve all done it―set the goal, promised to do better next year. The approach of a brand-new year is a seemingly perfect opportunity to make a change, to get on track toward creating the life you want. Unfortunately, statistics show that 25% of new year’s resolutions fail after the first week, and by the end of the first month more than 46% of resolution-setters have given up on their goal. To make matters worse, only eight percent of people are successful in achieving their resolutions by the end of the year. Why does this happen―and more importantly―how can you avoid it?

writing

Ten Pitfalls of New Year’s Resolutions (and How to Avoid Them)

  1. Inexplicit Goals. “I’m kinda thinking that I’ll probably try to spend less this year.” One of the biggest reasons that many people fail to achieve their new year’s resolutions is that they do not create explicit goals. In fact, statistics show that people who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions. Putting your plan into writing helps keep you accountable and committed. You will be more likely to remember and work toward a goal that is detailed and thought out.
  2. Unrealistic Expectations. “This year I’m going to cut sugar and carbs out of my diet, run ten miles every day, lift weights every other day, get at least eight hours of sleep per night, call my mom on a weekly basis, cook a full meal for my family every night, read at least 50 books, travel to a new place…” Creating resolutions that are too numerous or too lofty set us up for failure because they are not humanly possible to meet. If it were possible to be well-rounded and disciplined in all areas of your life, you already would be. Avoid this pitfall by focusing on one or two things about your lifestyle that dissatisfy you. Make sure these are things that are within your control (e.g. things that don’t involve a part of your inherent personality or anatomy, or that don’t include changing another person). Then create a manageable resolution with helpful sub-goals. Be realistic about the time that it is going to take. I’ve found that when you are being intentional and disciplined in one area of your life, it often becomes easier to work on changing other areas.
  3. Not Having an Action Plan. “This year I’m gonna lift and get really fit.” Okay, that’s great. How are you going to do that, though? Do you have weights at home? Will you be buying a gym membership? How often are you going to make the trip to the gym? Which machines are you going to use? A general, non-specific goal sets you up for failure by enabling you to make excuses and procrastinate until December rolls around once again and you realize you haven’t made any progress toward your resolution. This pitfall applies to all resolutions, not just ones relating to fitness and physical health. Other examples include the following: “I want to be more adventurous,” “I’m going to watch less TV,” and “I will focus more on living in the present.” While admirable, these goals do not support you in making lifestyle changes. More is needed to create a resolution that you can actually believe in, remember, and follow. Clearly state your goal, outline the time frame, explain the steps you will take to meet the goal, list your sub-goals and expected time of completion for each. It is also helpful to put in writing any rewards you will give yourself and the resources you need to complete the goal.
  4. Lack of Resources. “I will quit drinking this year.” Addictions are incredibly difficult to give up because they require more than just a decision to change. For many people willpower alone is not enough. Their bodies will go through withdrawals, uncomfortable and painful reactions to the cutting off of a substance that they have become dependent upon. If your resolution is to give up an addiction, seek outside resources such as a 12-step program that may be able to help you. Inadequate resources can also look like a lack of materials or funds, and this is especially common in resolutions relating to health and fitness. You don’t need to try a new exercise or diet fad. Go on walks and eat as healthy as you can on your budget. Seek out a food pantry if needed. There are ways to get around this pitfall if you are truly committed to change, so don’t use it as an excuse.
  5. Inadequate Support. “I want to go back to school but I’m not sure how to go about it.” Support is critical in seeing a goal become reality. Make sure you inform friends and family of your decision. Alternatively, seek an anonymous support group, either online or through an organization such as a church or clinic. It is important to create a web of support so that you have people to check in on you, offer encouragement and advice from experience, and keep you accountable.
  6. Not Allowing for Mistakes. “I messed up one day/week of my plan. I guess I gotta scrap my whole resolution.” Your resolution does not need to be all-or-nothing. Believe me. I’ve been there. So you missed a day at the gym. Get up extra early tomorrow and make up for it. Or just recognize that staying home and having some time to yourself was what you needed today. Forgive yourself but. Do. Not. Quit. A mistake should not throw your yearly plan out the window, but exceptions cannot become habits either. Don’t let your slip-ups put you out of the game completely. Balance is key to avoiding the pitfall of giving up too soon. Don’t put any be-all-end-all’s in your resolution. To err is human. Remember that any progress, no matter how small, is a step toward your end game.
  7. A Narrow View.”I want to lose 35 pounds by my sister’s wedding.” Too often we put our focus solely on the goal we want to achieve and miss the broader picture. Resolutions such as losing weight often fail because they are a temporary and surface solution to a deeper need. Living a healthier lifestyle means making decisions each day with a long-term outlook. Losing weight may be the first step, but it is not a battle to be won nor an item that can be checked off a list. Being healthy is a lifelong journey, and short-term resolutions can distract us from that and cause discouragement and quitting after setbacks. Know that everything is a process and remind yourself that each time you make a decision that aligns with your goal, you are forming habits and shaping your lifestyle in a positive way.
  8. Lack of Commitment. “Insert resolution and excuse here.” This pitfall applies to all resolutions and is the number one reason that resolutions fail. True commitment is becoming rare in the world today. I believe that it is a matter of practice. When you make a resolution you are essentially promising to engage in (or refrain from) a certain behavior for 365 days. Don’t treat that decision lightly. You wouldn’t make a promise to another person that you have no real intention to keep, so don’t do it to yourself either. Remember that your commitment to change is stronger than any barriers you may face. It may help to put your resolution in writing, sign it, and have others witness it. You will be less likely to break a commitment if you know that others are aware of it.
  9. Self-Fulfilling Prophecy. “I want to pay off my credit cards but I know that I won’t because I can’t stop spending.” A lack of belief in oneself is a major contributor to failure. The expectations you create for yourself impact your performance. It is important that your learn to believe in yourself and your ability to succeed. Forget the past and focus on the future with hope and anticipation. After all, the only sure way to fail is to not try at all. Encourage and reward yourself when you are following your plan well, and forgive yourself and start afresh when you mess up. Having confidence in yourself is important in all areas of your life.
  10. Forgetting to Enjoy the Process. “I hate having to watch what I eat. I wish I could just eat whatever I want like Susan.” First, you will never succeed in achieving your resolution if you treat it like a chore. Get excited about what you are learning about yourself, the progress you are making, and the results you are seeing. Find a natural way to incorporate the changes into your day so that it doesn’t feel like you are adding stress. Keep the long-term perspective in mind. Use a journal or encouragement board to motivate you and track your progress. Remember that everyone has something they are working toward. If you don’t believe me, go ask Susan what her new year’s resolution is. (Make sure you know her well enough not to sound like a creep, though.)

 

Keep these ten pitfalls in mind while creating (or deciding whether or not you are going to make) your own resolutions. Above all, remember these two things: you and only you hold the power to make a change in your life and it is never a bad time to start working toward a new goal.

I believe in you! Happy New Year!

Emilie