Actually, I Can Have It All in DSM
I am an author.
This is still a strange sentence for me to say or even believe, but here we are.
On Friday, March 20, 2020 my book, Actually, I Can, was published. It’s the story of Ruth, a young girl who is learning how to be confident in who she is. It’s taken a bit to get here, but I can now say, I am living my dream in Greater Des Moines (DSM).
I grew up in northeast Iowa. Like many young Iowans, I took advantage of all Iowa has to offer. I was an active kid, I participated in speech, FFA, dance, show choir, marching band and Girl Scouts. I was a page at the State House and was selected to attend the American Legion Auxillary’s Iowa Girls State and Girls Nation. I had the honor of representing my school and state on trips and in competitions. I even ran for Iowa State Fair Queen. Despite all this fun, I didn’t have a strong allegiance to Iowa or the people here.
After I graduated from Benton Community High School in Van Horne, I moved to Duluth, Minn. for college. I graduated in December 2017 and got a job as a legislative assistant at the State House. This is a temporary job lasting only for the legislative session, usually January to April or May. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do post-graduation, so I figured this would be a good starting point.
I moved to DSM in January 2018 but had lived here twice before. First for a few months while I was a State House page, then in 2014 when I took a semester off of school to work on a campaign here. I had a few friends in the area and was excited to start this new chapter. I worked through the legislative session, then got another temporary job in the area on a campaign. Soon after the campaign started, I realized I wasn’t going to get enough hours to make a living and started looking for a second job.
I liked the idea of working in the nonprofit world. I looked at the museums, the zoo, the botanical center and found an opening for a part-time preschool teacher at the Science Center of Iowa. I knew I liked kids, I had a minor in outdoor education and thought this could be a good way to use it. I got hired quickly and started just two weeks after I put in my application.
By this point, I had started to build some community in DSM. I had made some friends who were close to my age and in the same general life stage as me, and I had reconnected with some old friends who I’d worked with during the 2014 campaign. Most of these friends were older than me, with children and full-on careers. Despite our differences, they welcomed me into their community and helped me find my way.
Election day came and went, and my campaign work ended. I continued to work as a preschool teacher, eventually splitting my time between the Science Center and Grace Preschool. I started feeling settled in DSM and it terrified me. I wasn’t ready to be settled down. I wasn’t ready to sit still and stay in one spot. Sure, there were tons of things about my life in DSM that were perfect; I lived with a wonderful roommate, I liked my jobs, I was close enough to my parents and sisters I could see them regularly. I had started dating a nice guy and everything was falling into place. I just wasn’t ready to be “into place.”
I decided I was going to make a big move. I found a family looking for an au pair in New Zealand and applied for my visa.
In June of 2019, I left my roommate, friends, family, jobs and boyfriend for a new continent. I didn’t know what was to come, but I knew I needed to go. I spent five months living in New Zealand and taking care of two beautiful little girls. I found challenges and excitement, exactly what I was looking for. When I came back to Iowa after my job was over, I didn’t think I was going to stay here for long. I thought I was going to go back to New Zealand after the holidays and find another job. I already had a lead at a preschool, and with my visa, I could work practically anywhere in the country.
After returning to Iowa, I started teaching again at Grace Preschool as a substitute teacher. I found some nanny work and made full-time days out of a few part-time jobs. Of course, then COVID-19 hit, changing my employment status from teacher and nanny to nothing and nothing and making international travel basically impossible. Before this, I had been working on self-publishing my children’s book, and now I had all the time in the world. After almost two years of work, Actually, I Can, was officially published.
Life is weird. You think you’re going to be a high-powered campaign manager, bumping elbows with important people. And instead, you find happiness in pointing out rhyming words to your preschoolers and writing books for them. The best thing about life in DSM is, you get to do it all.
DSM is the perfect place for anyone who likes politics, art, literature, sports or nature. It’s the perfect place to grow into who you are — to try out everything you’re interested in — and it’s the perfect place to fall in love.
For me, DSM is my home, and I don’t plan on going away anytime soon.
Actually, I Can can be found at salixkids.com, amazon.com and most websites that sell books. Follow @salixkids on Facebook and Instagram to be in the know about events and promotions.
Named the #5 Best Place to Live in the U.S. and a Top 10 Best Place for Business and Careers, Greater Des Moines (DSM) is a city where you can have it all. Learn more about what it’s like to live here.
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