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Iowa, Wash Your Face

My husband and I are Iowans but have lots of family in Texas– cousins, aunts, uncles, fraternity brothers. You get the idea. And you know what you’ll never hear in the great state of Texas from these relatives?

An apologetic rationale when asked why they live in that great state.

Iowa, Wash Your FaceIowa, it’s time to take notice.

Sit up. Square your shoulders. As Rachel Hollis told her nation of followers, wash your face. We have no reason to be apologetic.

It happens frequently to me. When I travel for work, I share that I’m from Iowa and get a very honest, “Why?” asked in return.

There seems to be a presumption that my home state is some sort of a default. Like, maybe I took a wrong turn at Memphis and accidentally landed myself in a place where I couldn’t escape.

It seems people truly can’t believe that I might choose to live in our state.

I get it. At first glance, prospective residents might pass on swiping right on our fine state. Iowa doesn’t have mountains and it isn’t bordered by an ocean. If those are ‘must-haves’ on your dating list, our green pastures and thriving communities could be overlooked.

But if you look past our profile pic and get to know us a little better, you’ll find that our state is located in the center of it all. We have Iowa sweet corn in the summer, crisp apples in the fall, a winter wonderland that would make Elsa jealous, and seas of sunflowers in the spring. That’s right– even though the edges of our seasons are sometimes blurred, we’ve got all four.

So why are we apologizing?

Oh, I know. We should be sorry for our ability to progressively support same-sex marriages (we were 4th in the nation to pass that legislation.).

Or our ability to regularly graduate 90 percent of our students.

Perhaps we should feel badly that we embrace the groundswell of both conservative and liberal views, and everything in between, in our state, and should cower instead of celebrating our first-in-the-nation caucus status.

Maybe we should feel bad that our crime rate is significantly lower than our neighbors. Or that, when we do experience the occasional homicide or other violent crimes, it still stops us in our tracks. Because while they happen here, these incidents still occur with an infrequency that makes us pause, and reflect, and band together.

We understand ours is a small pond, especially compared to the rest of the nation. But this small pond gives all of us the opportunity to make a really big splash.

Right now I’m privileged to participate on a steering committee for my community’s new library, serve on the executive committee for a non-profit organization focused on crisis mental health supports, continue as a decades-long member of my local Rotary, and be a visible and active part of my kids’ school.

And I’m not special.

I’m one of so many people in this state who are dedicated to building a community of which we’re proud. People who make their home in Iowa not because we had to, but because we chose to live here. To raise our children here. To build our lives here.

So please don’t ask me, “Why do you live in Iowa?”

My list of reasons is longer than your interest in my answer.


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