on internet friends.

This is sort of a crazy story. Yes. I met a complete stranger on the internet and invited her to stay in my house for 3 nights. No, she was not an axe murderer. 

Last winter I was searching #flowerfarmer on Instagram when I found Finding Eminence Farm in Illinois. I always go right to people's blogs because if you aren't making me laugh, cry, think about things differently, or telling me how to grow cosmos so they actually bloom instead of just being a bushy green thing all summer, then I probably won't stay for long. 

I was laughing so hard I was crying at this blog. It was funny, honest, informative, all the good things. Because words of affirmation is my love language, and I am a firm believer in when people do cool shit you have to tell them, I randomly emailed this blog. I basically said, "hi, your blog is so funny, you seem funny, your farm seems awesome, keep it up."

Not even 5 minutes later I had an email in my inbox, Subject line: : "LETS BE BFF's."

Months later, Audra pulled in the driveway at Sweetwater. We had spent all winter sending cards, emails, instagram comments and talking on the phone weekly. I would come to our chats with a giant glass of wine poured and a list a mile long about farming. She would come with a whiskey on ice and questions about design work and event prep. We yin and yang. And laughed a lot. 

So when I invited Audra to spend the weekend with us in July learning, helping out with some big weddings & in general just loving Northern Michigan life, I did not find it weird at all. But explaining to people that you invited a girl you met on the internet to come stay at your house is a bit tough. I eventually just stopped trying to explain it and rolled with it. 

Audra kicks ass. She is a great designer, a hard worker and an even better friend. We talked all weekend about farming, being really really tall, loud women, how we stay sane and we laughed, so hard, that I had tears streaming down my face multiple times during the weekend. 

In her short time here we made sure of it that she would get a 'well rounded' trip Up North. So we took the boat to dinner, she did a wedding on Mackinac Island, we went out for ice cream, walked by the big water, shopped, designed our butts off for 4 weddings & drank a lot of wine in the backyard. 

I cannot explain to you how seamlessly Audra fit into our lives for the weekend. It was like I've always known her. She's an inspiration to me. She's a badass graphic designer, a farmer, a mom, a wife, a Hall of Fame Volleyball Player (seriously, go prairie stars) and she wears all these hats while still being really weird and admitting she's not perfect and that when you start a farm its really just a cluster for the first few years. 

I hear a LOT of different opinions about our Instagram usage. I hear that it seems like too much work, I hear that I'm 'breaking the rules about it', I hear that people love it, I hear that people look forward to the posts each morning, but what I love most about this tiny little square photo app, is that it has brought so many awesome people into my life. Internet friends are real. And sometimes the creative person you need to meet and chat with, they live on the other side of the world, but they get it. Instagram has brought random people out to this farm who I would never have met otherwise, who have harvested lavender alongside us in the early morning sun, it's brought us Taylor, who I will ugly sob for days when she leaves, it's brought us brides, grooms, web designers, guests of The Gather Series and it's brought us new friends. 

Open your door to new people, meet someone new, reach out, comment on their photo, write them an email about their funny blog, invite them into the studio for a weekend, what happens just may surprise you and change your life for the better.

Audra, see you this winter. 


Kalin SheickComment