Meet Creative Photographer Kylie Pond

I adore Kylie. She is so inspiring and full of creativity. I love seeing her posts of the simple things that become beautiful, creative things. She’s a photographer with an emphasis on storytelling– which I really love. 
You can find Kylie on Instagram at @kyliepond and online at kyliepond.com.

When you are in a creative funk, what do you do to reignite your creativity?

When I’m in a creative funk, I take a break from the activity that’s giving me trouble, and I try out something else creative or another way to unwind, like reading. I think it’s really important to not place too many expectations on our creativity, an idea that Elizabeth Gilbert has written extensively about. A couple of years ago, after a personally stressful year and a busy photography season, photography lost the joy for me. So, I didn’t push myself. Once my commitments were fulfilled, I put my camera aside for a couple of months and focused on other things. I came back to it when I felt the desire spark again.

Why is creating important to you?

Creating is part of my identity—it’s been part of my life since my childhood. It helps me to feel like myself and brings me joy. I was talking to a friend a couple of weeks ago about creative hobbies and why I think they’re so important to me. As a mostly stay-at-home mom, a lot of my work is consistently un-done and needs re-doing daily (or hourly). Diapers are always needing changed, food gets eaten and more needs to be purchased and prepared, laundry gets dirty, etc. Creating is more permanent. Once I’ve made a picture or a dress or hand-lettered a quote, it’s there and I can see it. Even when I’m participating in less tangible or consumable creative activities, such as singing in a choir or baking muffins, it bolsters my confidence and feelings of accomplishment. Creativity is a huge part of how I take care of myself and feed my soul.

Would you label yourself as “creative”? Have you always been a creative individual? How have you developed creativity?

Like I mentioned, I’ve been creating since childhood. I credit my parents with fostering that creativity by providing the materials, space, and inspiration to create. My mom was always doing crafts with us, and I don’t remember her ever saying no when I wanted to try something new. My dad is a great woodworker and a DIY type, and I remember many hours spent alongside him in his shop making things or watching him. I think it’s so important to provide this for our children, even though I see with my own that it’s not always easy. As a child, I loved to draw, craft, and make little polymer clay figures. I often used my allowance to purchase clay, sketchbooks, and pencils. I have always had a camera since about age 8, when I started with a little point-and-shoot film camera. I made my little sister pose for my photo shoots around the neighborhood.
Eventually, I was making my college roommates my subjects and within my first year of marriage, I was gifted an old DSLR (a Canon 20D). I took online workshops in photography and devoured as many free web resources as I could. I think overall I’ve developed my creativity by staying curious. If something seems interesting to me, I try it out (like the time I took a jewelry and metalsmithing class in college). I’m rarely very good at first, but if I like it enough, I keep practicing.
What is your favorite creative activity that someone might not expect? (i.e. I love Photography, but it’s not something I post about or talk about often.)
I have so many creative interests that it’s difficult to choose a favorite! I also seem to have seasons where one interest is more predominant than the others. Currently, sewing clothing is one of my favorite creative activities. I’m known for my photography and it’s where I’ve established a business, so sewing is something that is just for me. I love knowing that I can make something so useful and being able to make something I know will last and fit well.

Who do you follow on Instagram for creative inspiration?

What is your business/blog/hobby?

I’m a photographer! Primarily families with a storytelling emphasis.

Do you have any other thoughts on creativity that you’d like to add? Favorite quotes?

“Most individuals never have enough time, and they’ve never had enough resources, and they’ve never had enough support or patronage or reward…and yet still they persist in creating. They persist because they are called to be makers, by any means necessary.” Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

Learn How You Find Inspiration // Meet Lauren and Maria – Handlettering Artists (and more!)

If I were going to create the hand lettering version of a fantasy football team, Maria and Lauren would be my quarterbacks. Seriously, I love following these two on Instagram and seeing what they create. Although they’re both hand letterers, they have such unique and amazing styles. They also both have great thoughts on creativity and finding inspiration. 

You can find Maria on Instagram at @mariaharmandesign and you can see her portfolio here.

You can find Lauren on Instagram at @blushriverdesign and you can purchase her Procreate brushes (and more) on her Etsy shop!

First up, Maria: I’m an aspiring Hand Letterer and graphic designer. It’s taken me years of creating to finally come to terms with the fact that I’m creative haha. Ever since I can remember, I’ve been doodling words and letters in the margins of papers, or even tracing them with my finger on table tops (which my friends have lovingly assured me is not quite normal haha). I did receive a BFA in Graphic Design from USU five years ago and that has given me almost like an official stamp of approval that I really am a creative person.

I honestly almost feel compelled to create at times. It’s such a personal vehicle for self expression that I think I kind of feed off. Plus, there are so many different type faces and styles of illustration that I feel like I’ll never run out of things to try.

Where do you find inspiration/how do you get out of a creative funk?

I like to look at the work of people I admire. Instagram and Pinterest have become such a source of inspiration to me, from color palettes to type styles, I constantly find myself saving other artist’s work to reference later that makes me excited to start creating again. Oh, also vintage labels and ads are so so dreamy and always get my little retro loving heart beating faster and ready to create.

I’ve been completely smitten by @bydylanm as a source of creative inspiration lately.

What is your favorite quote about creativity?

“Perfection will only hold you back.” – Stephen Kunz

What is your favorite creative activity that someone might not expect?
I adore makeup! It’s been a side hobby of mine for at least ten years and I love creating new eye looks that are bold, colorful, and still (mostly) appropriate for every day life.
Meet Lauren: I make and sell Procreate brushes and color palettes, SVGs, fonts and digital prints. I have always been aware that I am a creative individual, I believe we all are. I have further refined and developed my creativity by simply doing it often and not being afraid of “doing it wrong”. I try to make a conscious effort to squash any power fear is trying to get.
I deeply believe that we came from a Heavenly Father who is the ultimate creator. I believe a huge part of my purpose gets fulfilled when I create. My mental health is stable when I create, because it lets me express myself. It helps me to work out my emotions in a healthy way. It releases tension and stress and makes me feel like I am being productive.
Where do you find inspiration/how do you get out of a creative funk?
When I am in a creative funk for designing something new or unique – I simply just play and have fun. I let go of any expectations or negative feelings and I just do anything I feel passionate about at the time. I don’t allow any external influences to come in, and I only do intrinsic led activities. Comparison is a major flame dampener for me, so I just let what is inside of me come out. Then I make sure to put it out into the world, and decide before hand that I am happy with it. This helps me to kill any of the power fear might have in my creative block.
I follow a lot of people on Instagram, but I don’t look to any one person for inspiration. It’s a really big deal to me to be intrinsically motivated. So I try not to get ideas from any one person.
What is your favorite creative activity that someone might not expect?
I actually love cooking. I went to school for Professional Cooking in college. I also love crocheting/knitting/sewing were my passions before I started digital design and modern calligraphy. I still love them immeasurably, but with 3 kids that are 3 and under it’s just not feasible at the moment. I used to design quilts, and knit/crochet patterns. I designed my wedding quilt that I had quests sign instead of a book, which I still look at often, it happens to be on my bed right now. I designed an amigurumi bunny, designed a C2C Christ block for my crochet Christmas blanket. When my children are a little older, I’ll definitely be doing it again.

Creating Helps You Find the Best Version of Yourself // Meet Katie Lee

First, and most importantly, press play on Katie’s brand new single for the perfect soundtrack to this post/your Saturday.

Katie Lee is a singer/songwriter and photographer. One thing I love about following Katie on social media is the passion she portrays in all that she does. Her excitement and joy for her photography and her music shines through in everything she shares. Her confidence in her performances inspires me. Without further ado, here are some thoughts on creativity from her!

Everyone has creativity within them. It’s so healing for the soul so just try new things until something sticks and brings you joy. Creating is important to me because it’s an essential part of my life. I feel like the best version of myself when I’m creating a song. I love that it can be like therapy. I can spew out so many feelings and repackage them into something beautiful.

When I’m in a creative funk, I usually go to the mountains or listen to or watch people that are really good at the same things I am. It inspires me to see what people can accomplish. I love photography and have been really working on that lately but I also love art and I’m trying to carve out space to do more of that.

I was always a creative child. I loved art and music and luckily I had parents that wanted to foster that. They put me in voice lessons, piano lessons, choirs, art classes, etc. When I got older it became something I wanted to do of my own accord and actually wanted to put time into building.

Katie’s Favorite Instagram Inspirations:

Photography: @aubreebellephotography
Photographyy: @loriromneyphotography
Music: @kimberlyknightonmusic

 

Creative Halloween Costumes for People Who Don’t Love Dressing Up

I love Halloween. I’m not interested in scary movies or anything haunted, but I love the creative side of Halloween — dressing up, make believe, tutus, sparkles, tiaras, you name it. Since I was a little girl, I’ve started planning my Halloween costume in March or April.

My husband, however, is not a dress up for Halloween kind of a guy. It’s just not his personality, and that’s okay! It has actually created a fun challenge for us every year we’ve “dressed up”. We find a costume theme that allows him to wear something he’s comfortable with and doesn’t really feel like a costume. T-shirts and scrubs based costumes are our BFFs.

Here are some fun ideas for simple, almost-not-a-costume Halloween Costume ideas for anyone who needs a last minute idea or a more mellow way to join in on the costume fun.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases when you use the links in this post. There is no additional cost for you to use these links. 

Shawn Spencer + a Pineapple

We both love Psych and really enjoyed rewatching the series together the first year we were married, so this costume pair was a natural fit. We ordered a Psych t-shirt for him, and pineapple leggings and a bright yellow dress for me. I made the headband with glitter cardstock from Hobby Lobby.

Doctor + Operation Game

I’m not really sure what inspired this costume, but it was definitely a fun one! We found some inexpensive scrubs for him and a hospital gown for me. I cut out the operation game shapes in red felt and sewed them on. (You could totally do iron on as well!) I also sewed a little square of velcro on top of each red shape. Then, I cut out a white game piece for each shape and sewed the other part of each velcro square onto those so my “game” was interactive. We live in Northern Utah where it often snows on Halloween, so I opted for fleece lined leggings under my hospital gown.

A Muggle + a Hufflepuff

It’s no secret that we’re big Harry Potter fans. It was, however, still a secret that I was pregnant the Halloween we chose these costumes. I wasn’t feeling great and we decided to go for extra simple costumes this year. We used my Cricut Explore Air 2 to create the “Muggle” letters for his shirt and I wore my Hufflepuff sweater from Harry Potter World. Funny sidenote: When I posted this picture on Instagram, we cropped out the wand because it was accidentally pointed at my stomach and we didn’t want this to be mistaken for a pregnancy announcement. 😉

I can’t wait to show you our family costume for this year! It’s going to be fun to include a toddler in our costume themes for a while until she has an opinion of her own.

If you take anything from this post, I hope you feel inspired that, with a little creativity, you can come up with costumes that don’t break the bank and don’t have to go all out.

Of course, if going all out is your style, I’m here for that too! And if you need inspiration for that, you should check out my friend Camille’s family/couple costume ideas. Here’s last year’s costume reveal and links to other great ideas.

Bowling Ball Day: The Ten Year Anniversary

Today is a pretty special day for me. If you’ve never heard of Bowling Ball Day, welcome. 🙂 It’s likely that that means we’re new friends. Here’s the short version: 10 years ago today, a bowling ball fell off the top of a flag pole on my head. And I’ve celebrated this day ever since.

It was March of 2007, my second semester of college. I was visiting some friends in Tremonton for spring break. My friend, Christina had suggested that we go to a privately owned park called “Marble Park”. She insisted the barbed wire collection was a must-see. So, we went. The park is a sculpture park featuring a lot of cool things:  swings made from old tractor seats, chairs made from barrels and wheels, and the infamous barbed wire collection. We decided to gather the group together for some pictures. We all climbed up onto three platforms. My friends Ashli, Mac, and I stood on the middle platform which had a flag pole coming out of it and was about 5 feet tall.

Ashli and I on the platform with the flagpole.

While taking the pictures, we noticed that the flagpole was kind of wobbly. It had been cemented into the platform, but looked as though it had come loose over the years. Mac started pushing on it, and just as I said (teasing, of course) “wouldn’t it be funny if I fell off?” a bowling ball fell from it’s perch on the top of the flag pole and onto my head.

If you look at the top of the flagpole in the background, you can see the bowling ball in its prongs.

I was knocked unconscious and fell off the platform. (This is a good thing because otherwise, it’s likely that I would have tried to catch myself and could have broken my arms.) Once on the ground, I regained consciousness, had a seizure, and threw up. (Lime green throw up, because I’d had Jones Green Apple Soda. TMI? Sorry.) My friends called 911 and explained that I had been hit on the head. “By what?” the operator asked. After looking around to find the culprit, Ashli eventually said “Um, a bowling ball.”

I was taken in an ambulance to the Bear River Hospital where they were worried about my spinal fluid leaking into my brain, so I was then lifeflighted to the University of Utah Neuro Care Clinic. One of the few moments of all of this that I actually remember happened in the helicopter. I remember watching the propellers start to spin, and one of the paramedics closed the door on my arm – so my arm was trapped between the door and my stretcher. I looked up at him and said “um, my arm…” and they quickly opened the door again and placed my arm on top of me.

The physicians at the Neuro Care Clinic determined that I had a severe concussion and my skull was fractured from front to back. You know how babies’ skulls are in two parts when they’re born and that’s why they have a soft-spot? I essentially just broke that open again. After four days in the hospital and eight staples in my head, I got to go home. I was on Loritab for a week, and then I went back to school. A few weeks later, I went to have my staples removed and the doctor told me I was doing surprisingly great and the concussion was gone. To this day, the only lasting damage is the quarter-sized scar on top of my head.

So, that’s the story of Bowling Ball Day. I love celebrating this day because it makes me feel special. Knowing how many people came to visit me in the hospital, prayed for me, took pictures with posters and sippy cups (long story) for me really just warms my heart. And knowing that, by some miracle, I didn’t die – that’s something that makes me feel things I’ve never been able to truly explain. Some of it is simply gratitude for the blessing of being alive and for feeling like I have a purpose for still being here. And also, in many sacred ways, this experience brought me closer to God. I believe in angels. The ones here on earth and the unseen angels that I believe were there 10 years ago.

Oh, and also, it’s pretty funny. I mean, who does this even happen to?

Malise Love Story Part 6: Okay, Don’t Freak Out

The day after Matt kissed me, I left work early to head down to Salt Lake for a Jason Mraz concert. (Side note: If you get the chance, see Jason live. It was much more of an intimate musical experience than just an opportunity to watch him perform. SO good.)

As my sister and I drove to our parent’s house together after the concert, I told her all about Matt and how great he is. When I got home, I told my dad “I might have a boyfriend and he’s really great and his middle name is your first name, so that’s cool.” Then I told my mom “I think I have a boyfriend.” and mentioned that we had kissed the night before.

The next day, my aunt was over and our family was all eating lunch together. My mom announced to everyone that I had a boyfriend and that I had kissed him. My dad said “What! You didn’t tell me you kissed him!” I blushed and everyone insisted on passing my phone around to look at his Facebook profile picture. When my Aunt Kristee’s got a look at my phone she said “I don’t think kissing him was unreasonable at all!”

That night, I drove back to Logan to celebrate “Bowling Ball Day” (more about that here) with Matt and some other friends. My sister didn’t have time to bowl with us, but came by the bowling alley to see Matt and give me her approval. Later that night, when Matt and I were saying goodbye on my doorstep I said “Soooo, I told my parents that you’re my boyfriend. Are you okay with that title?” He pretended to think about it, then assured me that he was definitely okay with that title.

Nearly 24 hours later, we were sitting on a bench outside the Logan temple and Matt said to me “So, I’m your boyfriend, that makes you my girlfriend, right?” I laughed and said “Yes, I think that’s how that works!” He asked if I was okay with that title and I playfully mocked him by pretending to think about it before telling him that I was.

We headed back to my apartment and decided to watch the first Narnia movie. Through the whole movie, I kept thinking to myself things like “I think I love him… no, I probably don’t. I’m just excited about a new relationship.” And five minutes later I’d think “But I think I love him! Okay, no. Elise. You just like kissing his face. You don’t love him yet.” And ten minutes later I had decided that maybe I did love him, but I definitely was not allowed to say anything to him yet.

When the movie finished, Matt hugged me and said “Okay, don’t freak out…” (Which, naturally, caused me to internally freak out a little bit.) “but, I want you to know that I love you.” My brain went a million miles a minute as I thought about how I wasn’t allowed to say anything yet, but I hadn’t planned on him being in love with me and so maybe I could tell him since he had told me? Though it felt like forever, I’m sure it was only a few seconds before I responded and said, “I love you too! But…”

more love story here

Malise Love Story Part 5: Ice Cream & First Kisses

The morning after I cried myself to sleep wondering if he was still interested, I woke up to a text from Matt that said “Good morning Elise! I hope you have a great day!” and I thought to myself “Okay, things are fine. What was I even worried about?” We texted alllllll day the next couple of days and discussed important matters like our favorite flavors of ice cream and which horse movies we’d seen. I told him that my favorite flavor of ice cream was Tillamook Mudslide and he informed me that Tillamook ice cream was on sale at the grocery store he worked at. Eventually we made plans to watch Seabiscuit and eat ice cream together that Tuesday night.

I’m not certain how we got to talking about horse movies because, in all reality, horse movies are a much less important topic than ice cream. And, though I didn’t hate Seabiscuit, I really didn’t actually care if I ever saw it again. So on Tuesday night when we got to his apartment and he asked if I had my heart set on Seabiscuit or if I’d rather watch something else, I was quite thrilled to agree on watching Ender’s Game instead.

And also, it solidified the belief I had that this date was a lot less about Seabiscuit and ice cream and a lot more about seeing each other again. With the lights off. In prime cuddling position. He put the movie in and sat next to me, but, you know, not right next to me. I had played the “take the entire movie to hold hands” game before and I didn’t have any desire to play it again that night. So I scooted close enough that we were touching and rested my head on his shoulder as the movie started. He responded by holding out his hand and saying “So, do you want to?”

Needless to say, we held hands and cuddled through the rest of the movie. And it was great. When the movie finished, I asked something like “So, did you really invite me over here to watch Seabiscuit or were you in it for the cuddling?” He admitted that he had hoped we’d cuddle and hold hands and asked me if I had been interested just in the movie. To which I said “Oh no, I was definitely hoping for some cuddling too.”

Later that night, I updated my journal to say that he’d texted me back since my last heart-wrenching entry and that we’d cuddled that night. I mentioned that I had kind of wanted to kiss him but that I also was feeling confused because usually it seemed to take a lot more work than this to get a guy’s attention and so WAS SOMETHING WRONG AND WHY IS THIS SO EASY?

I ended the journal entry with “IDK, I probably think too much.” Which is a common truth in my life.

We’d made plans to see each other again on Thursday night. I’d agreed to help out with a local special needs dance and I invited him to come with me. He admitted that he hadn’t been to a dance since high school, but was a really good sport about it and we had a fun time that night. (He was even very patient while I danced with one of the darling special needs guys who called me his girlfriend and asked if I wanted to marry him multiple times that evening.)

After the dance, we went back to my apartment and watched a couple episodes of Psych or The Office (I don’t remember which?). When the show was over, we sat on my couch and talked for a while. Suddenly, he got really nervous and said “I’m sorry…” I looked at him with, I’m sure, a confused look. He continued, “You don’t have to… no pressure…” and I said “What?” and finally, he said, “Do you want to… kiss?” I smiled, said yes, and waited for him to lean in closer. He didn’t at first and made a comment about being rusty, I reassured him that I was a little out of practice too, got impatient and went 90 and let him go 10. (Watch this if you’re confused.)

After we kissed, we hugged and said all kinds of cute things about how much we liked each other, etc. etc. and he told me he thought he was going to delete Tinder. I informed him that I had deleted mine the previous night and he said “I haven’t been on since I met you.” (Which, of course, I knew. Because I looked at his profile to see if he’d been on again before I deleted mine.)

That night’s journal entry ended with “So, that’s the story of when I kissed the cutest, nicest, most wonderful human.”

more love story here

malise love story part three: a tale of two tinder dates

After letting our Tinder conversation fizzle back in December, I didn’t really think much about Matt for a while. Then, sometime around Valentine’s Day, I saw him in my Tinder feed again. I realized that that meant either he had deleted Tinder and come back, or he’d unmatched us after I let conversation fizzle. “Well, I have to know if he swiped right on me again.” I thought. “It’s a Match!” popped up on my screen and I smiled. I decided to send him a message, I wanted to make sure he remembered who I was, so I mentioned things we had talked about before.

From that point on, we talked on Tinder pretty consistently. At night, he’d say “I’ll talk to you tomorrow!” and I loved knowing that I’d hear from him again. Eventually, we exchanged phone numbers and started texting frequently.

At the end of February, my friend Steph and I took a spontaneous weekend trip to California. During that trip, I was texting two guys from Tinder; Matt and one other. (We’re going to call him Kevin.) One blissful California night as Steph and I were walking around the LA temple, Matt asked me on a date for when I got back the next week. Steph and I talked about how excited I was and how I also hoped that Kevin would ask me on a date too.

When we got back from California, Kevin called and asked me on a date for that weekend. Which meant I had a date with Matt on Wednesday night and date with Kevin on Friday night. My friend, Dustin, asked me which date I was more excited for and I remember telling him that I liked talking to both guys and thought they were great, but that I was pretty sure Kevin would be the one I was interested in.

Wednesday night came and Matt showed up on my doorstep right on time. (He knew two of my best friends and they assured me it would be safe to tell him where I lived, so I did. #tindersafety) I’d had a cold that left me with an awful plugged ear and I found out pretty quickly that Matt is a pretty soft speaker. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to hear him for the entire date and got really nervous that it would be awkward.

We got to Kneaders and ordered our cheesecake and picked a table for two right by the window. He and I talked for three hours with me leaning in the entire time in order to hear him. (Hey-a, Luce! This guy bothering you? …it looks like he’s leaning. Okay, sorry for the distraction. back to the story.) We kept asking each other questions and at some point, I remember thinking “he just keeps talking… I’m pretty sure it’s because he doesn’t want this date to end…” and I thought that was pretty cute. As we walked up to my doorstep, he asked if I wanted to go shooting with him and some friends that Saturday. “Ooh, second date and we haven’t even said good night yet, this is good!” I thought, and told him I would love to.

We hugged and said good bye. I walked inside and realized that I didn’t know if I wanted to marry him yet. Okay, I understand how silly that sounds, but lets be honest – I was the kind of girl who would ‘decide’ either “yep, I could marry him some day” or “nope, let’s never talk again, please” after one date. But this time I didn’t know. All I knew was that I had had a great time and I wanted to see him again. And I felt like he genuinely wanted to see me again. And that felt good.

We texted pretty consistently the next couple of days minus the time we were sleeping and the time on Friday night when I went on the date with Kevin. I sent Matt one last response before Kevin picked me up and wondered if Matt would notice if I stopped responding for a while.

Kevin and I went bowling. He was just as handsome as he looked on Tinder, kind, charming, and a good date. I was definitely enjoying myself, but somewhere around frame 4 or 5 I thought, “This is fun, but I kind of wish I was with that Matt kid…” The thought kind of surprised me, but I put it in the back of my mind and tried to focus on the rest of the date with Kevin. After bowling, we got ice cream and talked. I enjoyed our conversation, but I still had Matt in the back of my mind and I was anxious to text him again.

After a while, Kevin took me home and walked me to my door. I thanked him and went inside and texted Matt. And then I sent Kevin an after-date text to thank him and let him know I’d had a good time. And then I kept texting Matt. The next day, when my friend Dustin asked me how my date with Kevin had gone, I said “Well, it was good… but I think I actually like Matt more.”

more love story here

malise love story part two: a little bit of heartbreak and a little hope

As I’m sure you could have guessed, things didn’t work out with the other Tinder guy. I went on another date or two, developed a new crush, got pretty bold one night and let that new crush know I was interested and he kindly told me that he didn’t see us being anything more than friends. This had been one of the first times that I’d just been up front at the start of a crush and it was kind of refreshing to have just been honest and know how he felt before I had gotten all emotionally invested in the idea.

BUT. I still felt pretty heartbroken that night. It really just felt like the final straw. It seemed like I was giving everything to try to have a chance with all of these wonderful guys and experiencing rejection after rejection after rejection. I was so frustrated. I was on Tinder, digging through “dumpsters”, putting myself out there, and I still wasn’t making it past a third date with anyone. And I didn’t know what I was doing wrong.

That night, I called my dad in tears.

We had a similar conversation to all the late night, Elise-in-tears phone chats we’d had before. He told me I was amazing and reminded me of promised blessings. He let me cry and complain and talk about how much it hurt. And he also told me that I had every reason to be gun-shy – he’d helped me through some of the pretty tough breakups and rocky relationships I’d had before. He told me he was pretty impressed by the way I kept trying despite the heartaches I’d been through. And then he said something that he hadn’t ever said before. He told me, “Don’t settle for unrealistic. Believe in the absolute impossible.” Then he said, “It is going to happen.” 

I hung up and knelt on top of my bed to pray. Through sobs, I told Heavenly Father that I couldn’t do it anymore, that I was turning my dating life over to Him. I told Him that I knew of the blessings He had promised me. My patriarchal blessing talks about me being guided to someone and I’d had other blessings that promised that someone was being prepared for me. So, I told Heavenly Father that it was up to Him now. I promised that I would listen for guidance and do anything He needed me to do to help the process along, but that the rest was all up to Him. And then I said that I knew that would be hard for me to trust Him and asked for help to let go of the “I’ll do it myself” control I’d been trying to have over my own dating life.

Not long after that prayer, my best friend Heather and I went for a drive to our favorite place, Magic Park. It was freezing outside, so we stayed in her car to chat this time. She’d just gotten back from a trip to Oregon where she visited the guy she was long-distance dating. She told me all about how perfect it was and then she told me that they’d decided they were going to get married. First, I felt really excited for her and then I started to feel some self-pity. I thought, “Really? Again??” I’ve had a lot of my best friends get married over the years. I’m always quite happy for them, but it can be tough when you have that go-to friend who is always ready to get ice cream or fries with you, and wants to hear all the pointless details of your life and the boys you’ve been texting, and they find a husband. It’s not that you stop being friends with them, but it kind of feels like a breakup because you have to find a new go-to best friend.

When my best friend Nichelle got married, I promised myself that I was going to get a male best friend to “replace” her. That seemed like the best plan. (And if everything worked out right, I’d keep that one around for forever.) But Heather wasn’t a boy (which is fine, because she was exactly the best friend I needed at that time). So as I sat in Heather’s car feeling like I’d never find a forever go-to best friend, let alone just another go-to best friend, a quiet voice cut me off and said “It’s okay. I will take care of you.” and my concerns instantly went away.

Two days later, Matt and I went on our first date.

malise love story part one: right swipe

When I downloaded Tinder again a week or so before Christmas, I set up some ground rules for myself that I thought would make it a better experience. 1 – No Tinder-ing when I was feeling lonely/desperate, 2 – I would try initiating some of the conversations this time, and 3 – I wasn’t allowed to keep talking to someone just to be nice if I’d decided I didn’t want to go on a date with them.

These rules made Tinder a much more pleasant experience for me. Also, it seemed that I managed to catch some “golden window” of Tinder opportunity. Perhaps the holiday season brought more options to Tinder because of family dating pressure? Who knows. But within the first month of 2015, I went on quite a few great dates with really, really good guys. 
I clearly remember swiping right on Matt. He didn’t even have a bio posted, just a picture of him holding a fish he’d caught. I guess I decided he was attractive enough that I could give him a chance without the bio. Plus, he just looked genuinely good. We matched, he initiated conversation, and we chatted off and on for maybe a week or so. 
There was also another Tinder guy who I was particularly interested in at the time. We had become friends on Facebook, which meant that I could see through Tinder that he also knew Matt. I started to pay more attention to this other guy and less attention to Tinder. I also intentionally let my conversation with Matt fizzle because I wanted to date his friend and I didn’t want them to end up at a party together and talk about me and assume I was on some mission to date all the boys from their high school who were on Tinder. 
So, Matt and I stopped talking and he deleted Tinder shortly after.

missed the prologue?