the heart hunt: part 2

I am truly amazed at what my hunt for hearts has turned into. What started as a game inspired by my sister-in-law a few years ago has turned into something that makes me feel loved in a unique, special way by my friends and family during the hardest months of my life. Since I posted about the heart hunt and shared that first photo of a heart potato on Instagram, I have received photos of unexpected hearts found in Utah, Texas, Florida, Arizona, Washington and Maryland while I’ve continued to find them in New Mexico. Please keep sending them to me via social media, text messages or emails, and I’ll keep sharing mine with you. Let’s all feel the love together.

I’ve mentioned this before, but every time I’ve had a few bad days in a row, something good happens and sometimes all that means is seeing a new heart on the ground or in a tree, or opening my phone to see a new one from someone I love. I want to share these hearts with you as I rejoice in the wonderful friends and family I have.

Here goes:

Just a few days after I posted that potato, I was tagged in this photo of spilled yogurt from my lovely friend Hayley who lives in New York and has known me well since the awkward, fun high school days. She helped me survive and thrive my sophomore year, and I still love any time I hear from her.

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During my job search, I had to step out of the office for a few minutes sometimes to answer phone calls. One day I stepped out to call a couple of people to see if they would be references. As I was talking to one of them, I looked down and saw this water heart on the ground. I felt that had to be a good sign. Things didn’t turn out exactly how I expected with that particular job I was calling references for, but I truly believe things worked out even better. I needed to remember to have hope.

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That day my sister-in-law Nikki also found another water heart in Washington. Two in one day! That had to be an extra good sign.

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February was both long and short with ups and downs, but on the very last day of the month, my friend April in Maryland sent me this mushroom that was trying to grow into a heart.

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Two days later, I spotted this perfect, tree-made heart on the ground.

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And another two days after that, my friend Janalee in Cache Valley, Utah, spotted this heart-shaped chicken nugget and said maybe this heart hunt was turning into a trend. At the time, I had no idea how right she was.

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On Sunday, March 8, Travis and I recreated our first date by going to a talk by This American Life creator Ira Glass and eating at a Thai restaurant.  Between the talk and dinner I spotted this leaf on the ground of UNM campus. Since this was my Valentine’s Day present to Travis, it seemed very fitting.

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The next day the sky presented heart after heart to me.

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The next Sunday, Travis and I went to the Botanic Garden and I looked for hearts but didn’t see any. Then just before bed, my friend Brittny sent this picture from Washington Beach. Friends always seem to fill in the pieces.

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Later that week, I went to Colorado to see my friend Stevi and go to an epic Garth Brooks concert. I thought about my dad a lot that day because my family was celebrating his birthday in Utah. I saw two hearts that day … twice the love! Stevi was pretty sure the first one was made of geese poop, but hey, a heart is a heart. Plus, I’ve told you my dad loved geese.

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On my dad’s real birthday, my friend Hannah spotted this heart in a parking garage stairwell after volunteering at a children’s hospital in Florida for four hours. Perfect timing.

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The next photo wins for the cutest heart sent from my sister-in-law Jackie of my little niece Madison. Hearts can be handmade.

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On my last day of work, my coworkers surprised me with a cake decorated in pink hearts. It was so kind of my friend Hawa to think of hearts that I almost cried.

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The next day, I found a heart in the form of a red curry potato chip.

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More hearts came from Washington near the end of March when my friend Brittny visited a cemetery there.

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On Easter, I told you we went to the Botanic Garden again, and this time hearts were everywhere.

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Hearts came from Maryland again. April said she was on a walk with little ones to look for bunnies. Along the way, the 5-year-old noticed the stars and made a wish to find a bunny named Sparkles. So cute.

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A shadow at a park in Arizona created this heart and my cousin Caree sent it to me. So happy.

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The next day, my cousin Genevieve’s little girl noticed a rip in her mom’s jeans and said it looked a heart. This photo came from Texas.

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Last weekend, I went to visit family in Utah and my first night there, my mom and I found heart sunglasses at Charming Charlie. There was only one pair and my mom said I should have them. She looked so cute in them though so I went home and promptly ordered a pair for her. Now we can be heart twins from afar.

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I couldn’t resist putting them on my niece who looked pretty cool, too.

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During the trip, my mom and I went to the Tulip Festival at Thanksgiving Point. Near the end, we spotted hearts within the leaves.

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My mom helped me with my first bridal show at USU’s Spectrum. While we were setting everything up, I thought, “I can’t wait to tell Dad.” I think it was the first time I forgot for a second that he’s gone. Later during the show, I noticed a section of seats that looked like a heart. I feel really good about that day because I tried something that was scary for me. Even though I didn’t get to tell my dad about it, I think he was proud anyway.IMG_20150411_172526

For my mom’s birthday, my sister-in-law had a bracelet made with my dad’s handwriting on it. She got the text from a card he gave her and sent it to an Etsy shop owner. It turned out beautifully.

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On my last day in Utah, my mom and I stopped by the cemetery and I got to see the lovely flowers and wreaths placed there for my dad. My uncle Jay crafted the big metal heart. It’s perfect.

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I want to thank everyone who has sent love the last while whether it was through these heart photos or in another way. I’ve received more kindness than I’ll ever be able to explain. This week marked four months since my dad passed away. I believe he keeps sending us signs that he’s close by and I never want those signs to end. I love the way hearts are appearing for so many people right now. Love is a miraculous thing and comes in many forms, just as these hearts have. When you look for them, I promise you’ll find them.

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