Each year since 2014, I’ve been writing these yearly recaps. It’s been interesting for me to look back on all that has happened with Lily & Val throughout the years and I’m so glad I have this record to look back on. The 2019 recap, though, feels very different to me.  I debated not writing one this year because on the surface it doesn’t seem like there’s much to say, but on the contrary, 2019 was a transformative year on many levels, many of them personal. I experienced a lot of change, the greatest joy of my life, but also struggle and questioning. I’m still working through a lot in my mind and that makes it difficult to write a review from “the middle” but here it goes anyway.

I have to pause to say a huge thank you to everyone who has been following the journey of Lily & Val and supporting me. Each year when I look back on the last I’m filled with such gratitude and honestly disbelief at where this little company has taken me. You all are such an encouragement.

The most important milestone of 2019: it was the year I became a mom.

Welcoming sweet baby Vienna to my life has changed me and I want to say so many cliches right now, but I will hold back (even though they are all true).

I spent almost half of my year pregnant, while the other half was spent navigating a new journey and my greatest role, motherhood. It’s been challenging and certainly the hardest thing I’ve ever done. At the same time, she brings a light to my life and I didn’t think my heart could love the way it does. I love this little girl so much it hurts.

Her arrival was also a pivotal moment in my concepts of slowing down and productivity. There was fear in taking a break, but I am so happy I did. I’m still creating new definitons of productivity and finding my footing as a mama + business owner. I know I will get there.

Let me back up to another major change that happened this year:

In February, Mak accepted a new role as the Creative Director at our church Northway Christian Community. This was another major life change because for the past ten years, Mak and I have been in business together. I’m going to be honest, this transition was hard. When you’re so used to working together every day and then suddenly that changes, it was a struggle. This is what I wrote back then when I made the announcement: “Now, we enter a new journey and it feels strange, yet exciting! I know he’s exactly where he’s supposed to be although neither one of us could have EVER predicted it (isn’t it funny how God works?! Especially in the midst of all our planning.).”

Although it has been difficult in many ways, I know this is exactly where Mak is supposed to be. For the past several years he felt that there was something more for him, that his talents and gifts weren’t being fully utilized. But he patiently waited. We had many heart conversations along these lines, but we had no inkling of what this would look like and he wasn’t actively searching for a new career. After an incredible set of circumstances transpired that we know can only be God’s hand at work, this opportunity presented itself.

Watching Mak blossom over this past year in his position has been another joy to me! He feels called to do what he’s doing and it’s a pleasure to witness and support him. I am so incredibly proud of him for his willingness to step into this calling despite the fear and stepping into the unknown.

It’s impossible for me to separate the business from the personal this year and I don’t want to. Everything that happened was through the lens of these major changes and my art is so closely tied to my state of mind. The pressure of running my business did take a toll. And when there’s pressure, creativity can become stunted. I definitely felt this and as a result, I made some bad decisions. Then, somewhere along the way I stopped trusting myself. I’ve been incredibly proud of the work I’ve put out this year, but it came with periods of mental angst. Sometimes creativity goes through a valley and I’ve learned that it’s okay! I beat myself up for a lot of 2019 because I felt like I was falling short, but I’ve been making efforts to change my mindset and build in new creative outlets for myself to release some of that pressure. I’m still a work in progress, but I know I’m on the right path.

Here are a few other highlights that happened in 2019:

Releasing the L&V Wedding Collection and seeing it for the first time in Barnes & Noble!

Teaching a brush lettering class at Anthropologie in Georgetown. I loved exploring D.C. after, too!

It was such a joy to draw the Nursery Art Collection as I was expecting my own little one!

This was my probably my favorite design of 2019.  I drew it especially for Vienna’s room.

My love of Mister Rogers continued strong in 2019. I was so excited for the movie!

My favorite chalkboard drawings to date were for my baby shower.

We visited the Farmers Market almost every week during the summer when V was born and it will forever be imprinted on my mind as a major part of 2019. It’s the little things.

I expanded my line with Mixbook with new holiday photo cards. I love collaborating with them.

We launched a line of L&V scrapbooking supplies (washi tapes, stickers, stamps) to go with the Keepsake Kitchen Diary.

And also released a brand new Kitchen Diary –the Baking Edition. These books are still my favorite product and passion! To see them continue to be so popular just makes my heart full.

As 2019 comes to a close, I feel ready for a new year and can’t wait to see where this journey continues to take me and my family.

Again, I can’t say thank you enough for your continued support and encouragement. It means the world to me.

Happy New Year and new DECADE, my friends!