Fairfield, Iowa: A Cast of 10,000, As Themselves

“Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere; and sometimes in the middle of nowhere, you find yourself.” ~Author Unknown

[dropcap]I[/dropcap] have lived for more than half my life in Chicago. In the heart of the city. For a long time, I had a great condo, lots of friends and no shortage of late nights. My calendar was always packed. 50-60 hours a week spent running a high-volume restaurant & bar, endless nights on the town, eating out 7 days a week, and vacations that were just an extension of my partying ways in the city – and to me, this was “normal.” I would wake up exhausted, drink a double espresso, make myself work out or meet my mom at the hospital, sit in traffic while heading to work, drink more espresso, eat my dinner at the bar at 11 p.m., then go out to do something “extracurricular.” This went on for close to 20 years. And no, there wasn’t a lot of time left in the day to “find myself.”

Eventually, during a six-month stretch, we shut down the restaurant, my mom passed away, my relationship with an amazing man went right down the drain, and I became suicidal.

Everything I knew, my whole life, had been turned upside down. But the Universe had other plans for me. Soon, I was guided to learn Transcendental Meditation . . . and after my first session of meditating, I had a complete 180 turnaround of consciousness, a true-blue awakening. I was transformed. Completely reborn. Gone were the compulsions to engage in one distraction after another, the desire to stay out all night and to have meaningless conversations.

Nope, my soul was craving depth. Big Time.

After working with my meditation teacher for about two years and speaking at various corporations about the benefits of TM, I decided I wanted to go out on my own. Since I wanted to write a book, I decided the best route was to “get out of Dodge” and totally disappear. Because I had been working for the David Lynch Foundation and helping my meditation teacher, we had taken a couple of trips to a small town in Iowa. Fairfield, Iowa, to be exact.

fairfield iowa barn
fairfield iowa barn

The second I arrived, I could tell Fairfield had a great vibe—it’s small, yet sophisticated. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but every time I went, I felt really, really good. My mind would light up and I could write 5 times as much as I could ever write when I was in Chicago. After a bunch of trips to Fairfield, I started making friends. Lot of friends. I started noticing that my new peeps in Fairfield could actually “see” me. Just like my mom could.

I felt electric.

In Chicago, I always felt so misunderstood, especially growing up. Except for my mom. She always got me. So, when I lost her, I figured, “That’s it. No one will ever ‘get’ me again.” Boy was I wrong. In Fairfield, I was about to find an entire tribe of humans that not only got me, but cared about me, and cared about the same things that were important to me.

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!!!

As soon as I started putting together the pieces, I realized I had to move to Fairfield, immediately. Within 2 days, I found the most beautiful cedar home on 13 acres, 5 miles outside of town. And to add another layer of awesomeness, one of my best friend’s from Chicago happened to have a 2nd home right next door! I signed the lease on the spot. But I told no one back home about my plan to move. I just did it, knowing it would somehow all work out.

I drove back to Chicago the next day, quit my job, put my condo up for rent and sold everything I owned. My condo got snapped up in 12 hours, and I emptied the home I’d lived in for 8 years in 2 weeks. I was not only moving to a new town, but I was moving at full-speed toward my new destiny.

fairfield iowa sqaure
fairfield iowa sqaure

In the one year I spent living in Fairfield, I met a group of friends I now consider my soul family. I also deepened my meditation practice (half the town practices Transcendental Meditation), wrote my first book, created a blog I adore, and best of all, I found myself.

I have never loved living somewhere as much as I have loved living in Fairfield, Iowa. The town has given me so much. My career was born there, the people I know there have nourished my soul with their deep knowledge of everything spiritual . . . and above all, the connection I’ve felt with these unique and profound souls has restored my belief that the world is good.

And more, that people are kind and full of magic.

For this city girl, moving to the country and landing in what I believe to be the spiritual epicenter of the country was one of the greatest gifts I could have given myself. If you have never been to Fairfield, I highly recommend checking it out. It may be a small town in southeast Iowa, but it’s a place of enchantment like no other.

[bctt tweet="I have never loved living somewhere as much as I have loved living in Fairfield, Iowa."]

mel sauerbeck
mel sauerbeck

Photos by Mel Sauerbeck: Represented for over 20 years worldwide, as a contributing photographer with Getty Images. His Award-winning images have appeared in countless publications in over a hundred countries around the world (Vogue magazine, American Photographer, New Age Journal, Time magazine cover, and hundreds more). Images have also been used in commercial and editorial locations in over 100 countries. (e.g. conceptual, people, beauty, lifestyles, art and travel locations worldwide). He is currently the owner and photographer extraordinaire of NavaSwan Photography. You can also find him in Fairfield creating magic wherever he goes.