Behind the Scenes Inspiration

Two Lessons Learned Away From Instagram

Oh hey there, friend! I’m not sure how you’ve joined me, but thank you for being here. I know this space is usually a place of pretty letters and fun recipes & projects, but I’ve had it on my heart to talk about something a bit deeper and share two lessons that came out of a brief period away from the distraction of Instagram.

Most days I start my morning on Instagram scrolling through the never-ending supply of the pretty and perfect. It’s like a craving and I soak it all in. I too want (& try!) to keep up with these images. After all, I’m in the business of pretty, right? But here’s the thing: lately, I’ve felt drained. The invisible pressure mounts and I grow anxious, feeling insecure about my every move. I scrutinize everything to the last degree, but yet somehow feel like I’m still falling short. Do you feel this way too?

Too often I start my day on instagram instead of savoring a cozy moment I took a few days offline and it forced me to refocus and think. To connect with my deepest values and the values I hold dear for Lily & Val. This company, which started as a hobby, has changed in so many ways I could have never imagined. Along the way, I’ve felt insecure, overworked, incapable and scared. I’ve also felt humbled, joyful, excited, and incredibly grateful. The business of creativity is an interesting one, and although I wouldn’t trade it for anything, I want to be real. I want to live out my values.

Just be yourself - advice I'd give myself at the beginning of my business and advice I need to hear now

I realized a couple things during my brief time offline:

1. Saying I believe something and living out those beliefs in tangible ways are two different things.

2.  Being vulnerable is hard and scary, but worth it.

Let me explain a bit more…

Lily & Val is a company built on the idea that the small things become the big things. The seemingly in-between, mundane and ordinary moments of life add up to a life well lived and are often the subject of our nostalgic feelings when we look back. I believe this wholeheartedly, yet I tend to let these moments slip away in exchange for more work and in general, just MORE. The chase has left me tired. If this is a struggle for me, I thought it might be a struggle for you too.

Offline is the new Luxury. I'm looking for more hygge and less hustle Vulnerability doesn’t come naturally to me. In our edited, online worlds, I have to believe it doesn’t come naturally to a lot of us, but I’m craving it. I want to open up about creative struggles, insecurities, and my attempts to regain the values I set for my life and business. This feels a bit unnatural to me, but I’m attempting to embrace the real, the awkward even. There’s no denying business is hard. I’ve let a lot of that cloud my purpose and what I want Lily & Val to stand for.  I want to slow down, enjoy the coziness of my home, take morning walks, start journaling, cook dinner with my husband, and make lots of offline memories with friends this summer. Less hustle, more hygge. 🙂

If you’ve joined me on this journey recently, or if you’ve been following along since the beginning chalkboard days, I want to say thank you. I’m still in awe at this life I’ve been given and I want to live with a thoughtful intention. It will be bumpy along the way and certainly not perfect, but that’s life. In chalk art and lettering I say to “embrace imperfection,” and I’m slowly learning to accept this in every area of my life. Here’s to more unedited moments and letting go.

(“Just be yourself’ photo was taken by Gina Zeidler at Inspired Retreat. We were to write down the advice I would have given when I started my business. It is still very appropriate and something I’m telling myself now.)

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  • Reply Nazanin May 28, 2017 at 9:38 am

    I started my creative journey about a year ago and I’ve been following you since then. I definitely feel everything in this article. I stress so much about growing my instagram as it’s my main marketing tool but I strive to just create and do what I love. Thanks so much for sharing your perspective!

    • Reply Valerie McKeehan May 29, 2017 at 10:00 pm

      I feel like as creatives, no matter where we are in our journey, these feelings stay the same. Creating what you love is the best thing all of us can do! It’s easy to lose sight of that sometimes and I think we all need to encourage each other. Thank you for the comment! <3

  • Reply Nickee May 28, 2017 at 10:52 am

    Love this and completely agree! It’s so refreshing being around people who are candid these days, probably because social media is so edited and perfect it just doesn’t seem real. I’ve definitely been feeling the pressures of perfection lately and it’s so nice to give yourself a break from it and let go. Thanks for this post! Here’s to enjoying time offline

    • Reply Valerie McKeehan May 29, 2017 at 9:57 pm

      Yes, yes, yes! I’m so glad this resonated with you too. It’s an easy trap to fall into. It definitely feels like a weight off my shoulders to let down some walls and let go like you said. Thank you for the encouragement!

  • Reply Richele May 28, 2017 at 11:09 am

    Great post!!! Thank you!

  • Reply Leslie Camille Callaway May 28, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    Thank you for sharing and being real with us – we probably all feel this way in some way or another. Social media has it’s place, but it doesn’t compare to a life lived on purpose with those you love. Relax, give yourself grace, love your family, and be your own kind of creative. We each have creativity to share – thank you for sharing yours! Love from Texas! – Leslie

    • Reply Valerie McKeehan May 29, 2017 at 9:54 pm

      So beautifully said, Thank you, Leslie! I needed that and it means a lot. <3

  • Reply Leslie Camille Callaway May 28, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    PS – the Offline is the New Luxury should be a print! 🙂

  • Reply Terri May 29, 2017 at 12:14 am

    Great post! So true! You’re very talented and I love everything you do! Funny, some people try to keep up with you/your perfect talent and business but yet you still feel the same way we all do!! Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply Valerie McKeehan May 29, 2017 at 9:53 pm

      We’re all in this together! <3 Thanks for the encouragement, Terri. Means a lot to me.

  • Reply Kelly Lunceford May 29, 2017 at 9:23 am

    Bravo! This is the second blog post I’ve read within an 8 hour period saying the same thing, yet from 2 separate artists. I could have written it myself, too! I’ve had the exact same things running through my mind! Thank you for putting it down in print! Authenticity has always been a priority of mine and is becoming even more important with every snapshot of implied perfection staring at me through my phone screen. Thank you!

    • Reply Valerie McKeehan May 29, 2017 at 9:53 pm

      Ahhh I’m so glad it resonated with you! It’s been hard to verbalize what I’ve been feeling lately, but I’m so glad I pushed through the awkward and did. “implied perfection through our phone screens” – how TRUE that is! Thank you for the encouragement. It’s great knowing I’m not alone.

  • Reply scrappin4fleia May 29, 2017 at 9:42 am

    I love this post and completely agree with your thoughts. I have a small Etsy shop, with no real intention of turning it into a full-time business, and I can easily find myself falling into the comparison trap.

    Thank you for being real. Keep up the good work!

    • Reply Valerie McKeehan May 29, 2017 at 9:50 pm

      It’s such an EASY trap to fall into, isn’t it?! It’s so nice to know I’m not alone. Thank you for the kind words and encouragement.

  • Reply Alison January 5, 2018 at 1:23 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Valerie! This definitely resonates with me as well. I have found online marketing to be so very difficult, and very discouraging when I keep comparing my own images with those I strive toward. Despite many business experts’ advice on what and when to post, I’d rather take the pressure off myself, live my real life, spend more time with my husband, and stress less!

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