Is there a conversation in your life that you can look back to now and pinpoint it as the exact moment your life changed forever? For me, that was the moment I introduced myself to a guy called Luke and his friend, who's also called Luke. "Do you go by your last names so you don't get confused?" I asked, like an idiot. "Well, if I say Luke, he usually knows I'm talking to him," Luke replied. And that was it. My life was never the same.
I was born in Colorado, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, though I used to try to convince people I was born in Folsom Field, home of the Colorado Buffaloes. A surprising number of people bought that story. Alas, I was actually born in the local hospital. My birth story is quite boring, but of course that's not why you're here.
In 2010, I first started blogging. I had taken a semester off from the University of Colorado in the fall of 2009, which turned into that whole academic year when I didn't return for the spring semester. I started blogging to give me a way to occupy my time and to explore my creative side. My first blog was not great. If you've been a blog-reader long enough, you remember when everyone's blog looked like a digital scrap book and everyone was so terrified that their low-lit, grainy photos would be stolen, so they put a watermark across all of them. Yep, that was me. Later on, that same space took a couple of different forms, before I finally threw in the towel near the end of 2016 as my interest in blogging had been waning for months.
Earlier that year, I took a trip to visit Birmingham, England. Have you heard of it? I hadn't either, but it's actually the second largest city in the UK. My church in Colorado partners with campus ministries across the globe and organises mission trips to visit the various locations. I signed up for the England trip simply because I spoke English. It was my first night in Birmingham when I met Luke. We were at a pub to play pub quiz (which is British for trivia) with people from the ministry and I first spotted him in line at the bar. Up until that moment, I could speak to strangers. I could introduce myself and make small talk. But in that moment, I was utterly frozen. A few moments later, when I realised Luke was with our group, I introduced myself. We spent maybe 3.5 hours speaking the week I was here in Birmingham, with 3 of those hours taking place in one night. I figured I would go back to Colorado and never speak to him again.
Instead, we had an absolutely fire snap streak, forcing us both to charge our phones like three times a day. Eventually we figured out it was easier to talk via text before making the jump to Skype calls. It was weird falling in love with someone who you probably aren't going to ever see again, but it happened. And one day Luke told me he was planning a trip to Colorado for the end of the summer. By the time I picked him up from the airport that very first time, we had been dating for almost exactly a month, but hadn't spent a minute together in real life during our whole relationship. I wasn't sure if we'd hug when he came off the plane (we did, it was stumbly and awkward) or if we could hold hands right away (we didn't).
Long story short, things went better than well. And if you haven't figured out already, I now live in Birmingham, married to Luke. I moved in June of 2017, just over a year after we first met. Nothing has ever felt so right in my life, to be honest with you. So while yes, meeting the man of my dreams changed my life, I also moved country, which definitely changed my life. And I guess it's all because I asked that really silly question about if he calls his friend Luke "Luke".
I figured getting back into blogging would be a great way to keep in touch with my family and friends back in Colorado and, once again, something to keep me occupied while I was unemployed and a way to stretch my creative muscles. I wanted to start fresh, leaving my old blogger identity behind and creating a completely new space to document my life.
After a year, I feel like I'm finally starting to find my footing here and it's really all because of people like you. People who consistently come back to read my words and see what I'm up to. People who give me feedback and suggestions. (The suggestions mostly come from Luke or my mom, but you're free to give some as well.) I want this space to reflect where I'm at in life as I'm chugging away each day on this wild adventure of being an expat and a newlywed.
I use this space to focus on things that I'm passionate about and things that I prioritise in my daily life: travel, self love, my marriage, my home, my beliefs and values, and of course my experiences living abroad. So whether you came here for a quick trip recap, a dinner recipe, or to be convinced that cookie dough belongs at the centre of every chocolate cupcake, I hope you'll stay for more.
I opened Shop Joy42 in May of 2018 with my first capsule collection called INSPIRE. At that point, I had been designing graphics for my own blog for over a year and had over two years of experience designing increasingly better graphics for my former employer. It was quickly becoming a passion of mine and it's been a privilege to share my designs with the world.