SO. Here is how my journal works: I am planning on visiting every single town in Iowa over the next three years, as a way to fully appreciate the land that has been my home my entire existence. I will be taking photos, talking and interviewing local shop owners as I thrift, and writing about each experience I have. There are 947 towns in Iowa and I refuse to believe that each one doesn’t have something to offer me. I am determined to soak in the beauty, to meet new people, and to fully understand what shapes the culture of the state I inhabit.
The idea that Iowa is a small state with nothing to do is no longer real to me. I now realize that the midwest is such an under-appreciated space with amazing people, unique communities, and vast opportunities for intense connections with nature.
I want to see what I’ve been missing out on. I want to put Iowa on the freakin’ map, dude.
I feel like there is some law that states you must hate the place in which you grew up. No one wants to be in the place they have always been. Now, I know this is not true for everyone, but this was definitely the tone of the people in my age group growing up. If you do stay home, many tend to see you as a failure– at least in Sioux City. I was born in Sioux City, Iowa, and for as long as I can remember, I always wanted to not live in Sioux City, Iowa. None of us did. The goal was always to graduate high school and get out by whatever means possible. Downtown was a ghost town, the city was way too conservative for my taste, and all the roads were crumbling. It was absolutely depressing, and the city had not put much energy into any projects that would encourage a large amount of the younger population to stay in town.
My end game was always to be out of Iowa and on to somewhere thriving as soon as possible. I recall complaining all the time that Iowa has nothing for me. My personality and interests require a big city, with life, with things to do… and Iowa has none of that.
After high school I lived in Cedar Falls, then West Des Moines, and finally landed in Iowa City, where I am now.
My plan before this year was always to hurry up and pick a date to leave Iowa. The progression went:
2015: A year from now I will move to Chicago.
2016: A year from now I will move to San Francisco.
2017: A year from now I will move to Seattle.
2018: I am still in Iowa City.
Now listen. For many, including myself, Iowa City is a glorious little bubble in the midwest filled with openminded people, an amazing appreciation for the arts, and a buzzing city that thrives off of the University of Iowa. Iowa City has been a paradise for me for a long time. This city has allowed me to become who I want to be. The problem for me was never that I didn’t like Iowa City… the problem was that I felt like Iowa was a wasteland and Iowa City (and a little bit of Des Moines) just happened to be exceptions.
Earlier this year, however, I officially decided that I was going to be leaving my career as a restaurant manager and was actually going to be returning to school. This is something I had been saying I was going to do every semester for the last two years, keep in mind. So this was a big deal for me. I decided I would stay in Iowa City for the remainder of my schooling, which is looking to be about 4 years as of right now.
At this same time I had been really getting into my meditation practice. What started as a once a week type of thing, became a daily necessity for me. I did not feel like I could go a day without meditating. My mind was too crazy, my thoughts swirled too quickly. Why wouldn’t I give myself 15 minutes of stillness everyday? Through this I found the true meaning of practicing gratitude.
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. – Melody Beattie
I stumbled across this quote a few months ago and it has been an echo in my mind ever since. The more I continued to practice gratitude, the more this statement rang true to me… and everything seemed to be falling into place.
In March I decided I was going to start a vintage clothing shop on Instagram with my friend Joe. I plan on writing more about our website at a later date, but essentially I wanted to go around Iowa and find the best vintage clothing, and encourage others to express themselves in their own unique way, while being kind to the environment by utilizing sustainable fashion.
THIS IS HOW MY GRATITUDE JOURNAL WAS BORN!
I realized: I have been in Iowa my WHOLE life and have done nothing but complain about how much I wanted to leave Iowa, even though I have yet to experience all that my home state has to offer me. I immediately switched my mindset about Iowa. I looked around more and more and began to fall in love with surroundings I have been taking for granted for years.
Honestly, I think I might live here the rest of my life. Who knows?
I am very excited to share these installments, I hope a few of you find this interesting!