I’ve lived in a bunch of places. Born in Connecticut, I spent most of my childhood in Colorado where my mom had grown up. On my 16th birthday, we relocated to Marion, Iowa. I was bitter, party-of-one. I left behind my friends, my choir (which I was a big geek over), and more urban living experience. I was determined to hate Iowa. I soon learned it was impossible to hate.
The beautiful green rolling hills, the rivers, and the kindness of strangers were inspiring. But my mom’s cancer came back. We moved back to Colorado to be close to her doctors. The year and a half I spent in Iowa remained one of the most positively impactful times of my life.
I would later experience the death of my mom, graduating from college, moving to Los Angeles, and building a life there with marriage and children. But Iowa remained a grounding space in my heart. It was home. And where do we go when everything falls apart? Home.
My divorce was the single most devastating and deconstructive time in my life. I felt alone, unsupported, terrified, and I felt a massive loss of the family and village I thought I had. But something beautiful happened. When I asked for help and desperately cried out on Facebook for support and prayers (which was a big deal for me at that time) who stepped up? My Iowa village.
Without the arms of my mother to catch and hold me, I found a collective embrace in the community and soul family in Iowa. Unconditional love, shelter, companionship, caring, and support that didn’t need to be requested.
My Iowa village continues to grow. And now I’m strong and grounded enough I get to give back to my community. There is an obscene amount of love and support! OBSCENE!
Here are 5 ways Iowa felt like home before it was:
1. Open arms.
This doesn’t happen everywhere. In many cities, we approach and receive others with distrust and a resolute “no” in our hearts. In Iowa, residents welcome others as if they are already friends.
2. People make time for others.
There exists a stillness in Iowa. A time for work and a time for connection. People hang out! People stop to help you when you ask and step up when you take them up on their offers to support you.
3. There is an authentic pride of its residents.
That energy is contagious. You can see it in their pristinely mowed lawns, that they almost ALL mow themselves. You see it in how they maintain their public spaces, as a community. And, you see it in how they volunteer and support those less fortunate as part of making sure everyone has support.
4. It’s gorgeous.
So green and lush. The blue skies dotted with perfectly puffed clouds. Yes, there is winter, too. But I just pretend like I’m enjoying the Danish winter tradition of Hygge!
5. I just knew it was home.
My soul knew. My intuition screamed out at me that my purpose and path were there. And this 41-year-old momma spent enough time learning the hard way that my intuition is always right. I decided to start listening.
What do you love about Iowa? Let us know in the comments!
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