Where to start… This is new for me. I’ve branded myself as “photographer” for the past seven years and have been aching to do more, share more, and be more. This is my space for sharing my heart, my story, my thoughts, my kids, and other loves- travel, design, reno-fun, and whatever else my heart fancies. I’m excited to show up here and I hope it can leave you feeling inspired and ready to take on your own adventures and dreams.
In Search of Wildflowers was always something more than just photography for me… it was and still is a journey for me. I spent years letting life happen to me instead of me choosing my own paths. I was in search of the person I lost and the person I wanted to be. I craved the wild and free, slow-living, intentional, heart-throbbing, risk-taking, adventurous life that lived on in my dreams. So the name change and this venture was simply to spark that inside of me again. It’s been wild since I rebranded to In Search of Wildflowers in 2018… you can say a lot has happened. From a divorce, to single and full-time working mama, to meeting the man of my dreams, to buying an a-frame on Lake Michigan, to eloping in the desert, and us selling our beloved cape cod and buying a funky 80’s house that needs a lot of love! And now, this spring we’ll be welcoming a third little babe into our tribe. She’s already SO loved.
This season feels like a word I personally hate… B U S Y .
But, I’m hoping it’s just for a season and we can find the restful moments in the in-between. I think intentionality is key here. This is a small part in me being intentional this season. I’ve always wanted to write more and never have made it a priority… always have been “too busy”. So here we go…
This is my story.
For those new to here, I’m Kendall. I’m 28 years old. And I have lived a lifetime in a matter of ten years it feels like. I married my high school boyfriend at 18 years old. Looking back.. no, I don’t know what I was thinking. lol. None of us really do. But like I said, life was happening to me back then… I wasn’t choosing my own paths and I wasn’t speaking up about what I wanted and needed. I have been and still am a peace maker at heart. Confrontation… no thanks. Yet, it seems to find me everywhere I go. So here I was… saying yes to a proposal I wasn’t ready for and letting the wind carry me from there.
Soon after we got married (like one month later), I found out I was pregnant and that’s when my little miracle babe Elle came into the picture. She changed my whole world. I was only 19. But honestly, I wouldn’t change a thing looking back. She was and is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I’ll have to share my story of being pregnant and having a baby as a “teen”. It was extremely hard and my heart goes out to every young mama out there… I promise I’ll go into the nitty gritty details one day if anyone wants me too, but for now… we’re sticking with the highlights.
I was going to College for Creative Studies at the time, studying advertising design. If you don’t know.. my family is in the biz, so it made sense that was the path I chose. (Again, life happening to me.) Don’t get me wrong though, I live and breathe design and advertising… It’s a core part of me. Growing up with it, I loved it. However, two years into college while having a little babe at home was needless to say difficult. I had been freelancing design work and for fun, picked up my camera and started photographing Elle for fun early in the mornings when the sun was rising and the fog rolled in. It happened organically… I wasn’t looking for it, but my little creative hobby with Elle was sparking something in me and before I knew it, families, seniors, and couples, started reaching out!
I slowly started to phase out of freelance design, dropped out of college, and told my parents I was going to be a wedding photographer. I was determined. They were supportive, but I honestly think they thought it wouldn’t go far… lol.
My now-ex was still going to college and pursuing software engineering. He eventually dropped out of college too and announced he was going to a 6 month coding bootcamp… in San Francisco. On the same day he told me this, I was in Florida with my family and had walked into a breakfast spot. All of a sudden, the smell of waffles made me oh so queasy… and there I was running to the bathroom and staring at myself in the bathroom mirror realizing I was once again, pregnant.
Now, this pregnancy was hard in a different sense. I spent most of my second trimester on my own taking care of a two year old and trying to start my photography business… thankfully, I lived next door to my grandparents that summer and had so much family support. I look back on things like that and really see how God was so intentional in taking care of me in the behind the scenes. The house next door to them (we call it “the duck house”) was available for rent and I was determined to live there. It was one of those stars aligning moments when it became available to rent right around that time. It was right on our lake property that I grew up at my whole life and honestly it was one of my favorite places I ever lived, even if it was only for a year. That summer was hard, but beautiful. I spent so much intentional time with Elle and my photography business was growing slowly along with my growing belly. We celebrated her second birthday (without her dad there), but all the people in my life showed up. Even one special person who didn’t know he was going to be so special yet was there. Yep. That’s right. Derek (my now husband) came to Elle’s birthday party as a friend of a friend. Looking back, I could cry. I remember this day so well.. I remember sitting on our little golf cart by myself crying. Yes, I was very pregnant…and I’m sure hormones had something to do with it. But I remember feeling so discouraged and upset that my daughter didn’t have her own father at her 2nd birthday. He was MIA most of the time.. but this one hit hard the most. Now I think.. wow, but then God. Because this random guy shows up at her party with a bag full of whale books (her favorite animal at the time), stayed late with all of us, played with her, and helped her put together her new toys… the same guy that becomes such a sweet and present father to her only a few years later. Life is strange and beautiful.
Fast forward, to November 30th, 2015. My ex finished his bootcamp and had started a new job in Detroit. We decided to leave my favorite place and move to Grosse Pointe. The day we’re supposed to be moving into our new house is of course the day, I go into labor! It was crazy, hectic.. my grandparents are driving me to the hospital. My ex is driving the opposite direction to the house with all our belongings. And just a few hours later, my sweet precious boy is born. Theo. I didn’t think life could get sweeter… but he made life so bright and beautiful. Still does.
This was the year things really took off with my photography business. I started booking a ton of weddings and it pretty much snowballed from there… Life was strange and isolating those two years living in Grosse Pointe. My only social life was with my couples at their engagements or weddings. Looking back, it feels like a dream. I was far from friends and family. My marriage was lacking and I was craving something M O R E, something N E W. I spent mornings just driving along Jefferson Rd, watching the waves crash onto shore, praying, thinking, dreaming. One day, sitting at starbucks editing I felt something so strong come over me. It brought me to tears. And these words were spoken so out of the blue into my heart. “California is going to be your fresh start.”
Immediately, I jumped on Trulia and Zillow and started searching lol. But mostly I encouraged my ex to start looking for job opportunities out there… he’d always wanted to move to San Francisco, so it wasn’t too hard to convince him. Then one day, he comes home and says he thinks he’s about to get fired. This same day, he gets offered a job in, what do you know, Santa Barbara, California… the timing was I N S A N E.
Before I knew it, we were packing up and listing our house for rent. He moved out there a month or two before me to start his new job. I moved in with my parents for a little bit to finish up some things in Michigan and soon found myself flying to beautiful, sunny Santa Barbara with my two little babes. We moved into the most adorable house just minutes from the beach in a smaller town just outside of Santa Barbara called Summerland. And let me tell you, that place was a summer dream. I didn’t want to leave.
Most of our days was spent barefoot, running to the park that overlooked the ocean. Chasing waves on the beach. Finding the prettiest blue oyster shells buried in the sand. And taking little trips to the pier to look for seals and dolphins and making friends with pelicans. I miss those days the most. I didn’t have a ton of photography going on besides editing, which I did mostly in the evenings. So my days were spent just being their MOM and exploring and settling into our new home. It was everything my heart wanted. Yet, I would sit there on the beach and feel completely alone…
Fast forward through a couple months of a lot of arguing, a very distant husband, and finally REAL conversations and new revelations about getting married as young as we did. The fires began… And I mean this in the most literal and spiritual sense. California was on fire… all around us. And evacuations were happening. I remember not being able to sleep one night because I could see the flames and smoke in the distance coming towards Summerland. I wanted to leave and stay with some friends south of the fire, but my ex wouldn’t agree. He was particularly removed and distant that night. We had flights booked the next day and planned on flying home to Michigan for Christmas early.
I got up before it was even light and finished packing… we left early that morning with smoky skies all around us. Driving past the fires and burned to crisp palm trees was surreal. Arriving home in snowy, white Michigan just several hours later was even more surreal.
We get to my parents house and as soon as I walk in, I realize my parents were having a party for all the young adults at our church. Literally everyone I knew was there… And off in the corner was Derek. For some reason, I was always drawn to him. There was something comforting to me about him, something familiar, and I just had this urge to know him more. I said hi, we talked for a minute, and off I went to make my rounds of “hellos” oblivious to what lay ahead just the next day.
December 2017 – (specific date unknown) – P takes me to the movies for a “date night”. However, we never actually make it into the movies… we sit there and he begins to talk. And I sit there in complete shock. I hear the words “I want to get a divorce”. Then proceeded with “I’m in love with someone else…” Then proceeded with me reading endless emails between his old-girlfriend from high school who he claims he is still in love with. I felt numb. Yet, I felt sorry… I felt sorry he felt so stuck in a relationship with someone who obviously didn’t understand him. The jokes, the conversation that he was having with this other person… I instantly was overcome with this feeling that he was right and we didn’t belong together. There was more connection and familiarity in the email threads than there had been our whole relationship. I wasn’t mad. I wasn’t sad. I just sat there and felt… nothing.
The next morning, I wake up… and for some reason, that’s when it hits me. My shock fades and I come stumbling down the stairs just sobbing and shaking. My mom rushes over and holds me. She has no idea and I have no idea how to tell her. It was like all at once I knew everything was going to change. And I wasn’t ready for it and I didn’t understand it. Divorce while maybe it was what I wanted deep down… was the furthest from my mind. I wasn’t prepared. How could I be?
Fast forward through a lot of processing and therapy… I go back to California with him to “try and work things out”. This didn’t last long. After the fires… came the mudslides. Literally. We were trapped in Summerland with mudslides happening all around us. Roads were blocked.. flooding was happening everywhere. I could walk to where people lost homes and lives. Yet, somehow we were perfectly safe in our little bubble in Summerland. In the midst of the chaos is when I realized my marriage was truly over. He wasn’t in it. He wasn’t fighting for me. And I, deep down, was done too. My parents caught wind of what was happening and before I knew it, my dad (who happened to be flying into California at the time for a work trip) was taking a plane, car, and train (literally) to come get me and take me home.
I pick my dad up at the train station in Carpinteria… I swear it felt like something out of a movie. People hustling and bustling about. This picturesque sunset. The ocean in the background. Me… holding my kids hands waiting for my dad to rescue me. And there he is. I could just burst into tears seeing him.
We go back to the house and he helps me pack. The next morning was a pivotal moment for me. It was my fresh start… the one God promised me.
The bright sun poured in through the tiny airplane window… mixed feelings of grief and excitement filled my soul. I watched as my daughter quietly looked out the window, watching the plane speed up and off into the unknown. We left our dreams, our things, everything we once held dear. The rest of story begins here.
As I sit here on the plane, leaving my husband, the father to my kids, my supposed “best friend” for the past 6 years… Thoughts flip through my head like pages to a book moving so quickly you can’t quite see the whole picture. But then it stops on one page. And as the picture becomes clearer… a rush of emotions come like an unexpected flood. This can’t be real. What is this feeling? I see his face. I know his name. Yet I don’t really know him… he’s just always been there in the background. With this newfound freedom, I’m suddenly consumed by this aching feeling to know him and be with him. I quickly shove it away… afraid of the unknown. Afraid to put my heart out again. Maybe another day.. another time. (I bet you can guess who.)
Tears.. laughter.. I share my story with one of my best friends when I get home. She sits there crying, yet smiling. So sad, yet so happy for my future. She tells me something I can’t shake— “Remember our last night together before you left? For a split second I saw you with someone else… I didn’t know what it meant or why… but something in my spirit already knew this was your future.” I smiled and knew exactly who she was talking about.
And while this part of the story deserves it’s own detailed post, we’ll continue to stick with the highlights. Fast forward through a major cross country roadtrip (best trip ever with the best friend ever) packing up everything I left behind, a whole lot of drama and lawyers throughout the week, me trying to kickstart my business again, building my new brand In Search of Wildflowers, renovating my Grosse Pointe house after finding it completely destroyed by our renters and quickly selling it, raising two little humans as a single mom, solo trips traveling, and many concerts and hangouts with a new special person in my life. (PHEW, that was a LOT.) I was running at full speed for months straight. Thankfully, the divorce finalizes 6 months later. All I can remember feeling is that I could finally breathe… I was free. A couple months later, Derek takes the leap with me. The week of 4th of July, 2018 after a Paramore concert, the stars finally aligned. We started dating. We kicked it off with a trip to Portland and the Oregon coast. The whole trip was this hazy, summer-love like dream. It’s still one of my favorite places and memories to date. We’ve gone back more times than I can count and originally planned to have our wedding there!
Our relationship was not an easy one… navigating dating with kids is no joke. We had a lot of ups and downs, but I had such a knowing that this was my person and we both worked so hard at our relationship. I know some people think it should just be easy. Don’t get me wrong.. It was at first. In the beginning, all you can think is “wow, this just flows!”. But we had to deal with a lot of hard stuff right off the bat. Like parenting together. He was the first person that I felt at home with and there was this familiarity I still can’t quite put my finger on. We dated for 2.5 years and during that time, I grew so much as a person. Derek too.. Eventually, we both felt like we were ready for the next step and before I knew it, Derek bought us the cutest cape cod in Royal Oak. It was my dream home. We were planning on getting engaged, but felt deep down we needed to move in together first. I was too scared to get married again. In a way, I needed a trial run… and while my therapist did not recommend it, I promise you it was what we worked through that whole year that ultimately got us to the point of being ready to get married. After a year of covid lockdowns, homeschooling, Derek quitting his job and pursuing a new career, Derek taking too long to propose, me moving out of the house out of frustration and disappointment, me finding out that the kids dad was moving back to Michigan and wanted to be back in their lives (in retrospect, such a good thing for them!), me having a literal breakdown because of all of the above, and then me realizing I didn’t want to go through all the hard life stuff without him, we finally worked things out. (So much drama right?) He proposed in December 2020 in our backyard. It was snowy and magical and unbelievably perfect… plus I was totally surprised. We started planning a summer wedding on the Oregon coast. And after a lot of back and forth stress with planning, we decided to say screw it. Let’s not wait anymore. And we eloped in the Arizona desert instead!
February 28, 2021 – this was my favorite day. The whole weekend in fact. We celebrated with our immediate family and let every part be a creative expression of ourselves filled with such intentional time together. It was the epitome of a slow-living, wild, adventurous, heart-filled kind of weekend. Having your kids apart of your wedding day is something I don’t think I could ever express fully with words too. It was unbelievably special. Not only did Derek become my husband, but he became their dad that day too. No one else deserves that title more than him. He stepped up in such a major way when Elle and Theo were only 2 and 4 years old… They needed a father and Derek was just that.
Now we dive into what’s felt like the busiest season yet… married life. Reno life. Kid life. I had bought an a-frame on Lake Michigan that winter before he proposed. It was my over-zealous project that I took on without a second thought! Crazy, adventure is what were going for here right? This little cutie needed a lot of love though. We started renovations just weeks before our wedding. And it’s been a year and almost a half project since… I truly don’t know what weekends are anymore.
While working on this reno, Derek got a new job, we sold our perfectly perfect cape cod and moved onto 3 acres in Clarkston into a beautiful home that needs some love as well. We saw this funky 80s house with endless property as a place for our family to grow, to slow-down, to create the life we dreamed of. Cut too, we’re pregnant! We miscarried at first.. it was devastating and my heart goes out to all mamas out there who have ever experienced it. I didn’t think it would happen as quickly as did after that, but a few weeks later… I was pregnant again! And fast forward 9 months, we have a little girl on the way. We’re ecstatic and nervous all at the same time. I’ve saved all the planning and prepping to the last minute naturally. But, nevertheless we’re so ready to meet this little babe.
We just celebrated our one year anniversary too in Sedona of all places! It was a dream. We cozied up together at this cabin in the mountains and soaked everything in that has happened this past year. 2021 was truly the year we risked it all and gave into all our dreams and desires. To starting renovations, to major career changes, to eloping, to moving over the summer amongst my busy wedding season, and babies! It’s been a wild ride and to be honest, we have definitely felt burned out. But! So thankful. And grateful. And so ready for all that’s to come during this next decade of life!
Since writing this post, we’ve had some major life changes!! You can follow along on our latest updates in my next post- “Dear Olive”.
Thanks for following along you guys.