Personal growth is a never-ending journey. The process is uncomfortable, painful, and sometimes even ugly. I just experienced all these feelings myself this past weekend. But I was also reminded by this quote that Jesus has gone through every painful feeling I’ve ever experienced and more. He’s right here with me to get me through.

I hope this quote will be an encouragement to you as well as we dig deeper into personal growth through the Enneagram.

Self-knowledge is tied with inner work, which is both demanding and painful. Change occurs amid birth pangs. It takes courage to walk such a path. Many avoid the path of self-knowledge because they are afraid of being swallowed up in their own abysses. But Christians have confidence that Christ has lived through all the abysses of human life and that he goes with us when we dare to engage in such confrontation with ourselves.”

~ Andreas Ebert

The Enneagram is a comprehensive system with a complex model. Don’t get overwhelmed though! Here are a few concepts that I focused on to get started:

Dominant Personality Type

The word Enneagram means “nine-drawing”. The structure is simply nine points equidistant from each other on a circle. Each point represents one of the nine basic personality types.

If you read the descriptions for each type, you’ll probably find a little of yourself in all nine types. That’s because we are complex human beings. However, we are all born with one dominant type. This basic type influences the way we feel, think, and act. It determines how we learn to adapt to our environment growing up.

*As you learn more about your personality type, please remember each type has its unique capacities and limitations and that no one type is better than another.*

The Fluidity of Our Personality

Although we are born with a dominant type, our personalities are fluid. Take a look at the structure again and you’ll see 2 lines from each type connecting to 2 other personality types. One line connects to a type that represents how you behave under growth and the other represents how you behave under stress.

I never realized this until my husband asked me one day, after me reacting negatively towards something he said, “Why are you getting so mad and defensive right now? I’ve said the exact same thing before and gotten a positive response from you.”

That’s right, we can be presented with the exact same situation yet react differently under different conditions. For example, ones, when moving towards health and growth, will display positive tendencies of sevens. When under increased stress and pressure, ones will act out like an unhealthy four.

Levels of Development

To me, the most encouraging part of this system is the growth opportunity. There are nine levels within each type that indicates how conscious we are of the self-image we have subconsciously created in our past. They are divided into healthy levels, average levels, and unhealthy levels. The more we are aware of our self-created image, the more we can grow toward healthier levels. 

One of my favorite resources, The Road Back to You by Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile, starts each chapter with a description of each type at healthy, average, and unhealthy levels.

In the next few weeks, we’ll go over each of the 9 personality types—their tendencies at their best and worst, their basic fear, as well as their key motivation. This will help you better understand either yourself or someone you want to love better. 

Posted on August 21, 2018

Back in 2016, I rebranded from Helen Handmade to Letter + Adore. It took me a long time to come up with a brand name that goes beyond calligraphy to include other aspects of my intended brand message. My vision for Letter + Adore is built on relationships and the memories created within meaningful relationships; so I chose the word “adore” because it means to love and respect someone deeply.

With that in mind, I chose the word “relationship” for my word of the year in 2017, where I focused on deepening certain relationships while building new ones. This year, my word is “growth.” I haven’t talked about it publicly because I spent the first half of the year dealing with some big life changes, but now I’m ready to share with you what I’ve learned.

Last fall, a friend introduced me to the Enneagram, an ancient personality typing system. I was first interested because I’m a personality assessment junkie. But as I learned more about the Enneagram, I started to see how much more in-depth it is compared to other personality typing systems. It goes beyond simply identifying your personality type, showing the pitfalls of your type and how to navigate around them.


The Enneagram has been an amazing tool for helping me become more self aware. We often go through life on autopilot because we’re so used to the way we feel and act that we don’t think beyond our natural tendencies.

I’m an Enneagram 4 and I used to be held back by my core fear of lacking personal significance. This has caused a lot of low self-esteem issues and jealousy towards people in my industry that I really admired. Now that I’m aware of these unhealthy feelings, I’m able to practice gratitude more and play the comparison game less.

The Enneagram has also taught me to love and relate to others. Learning about the emotions, drives, and fears of my loved ones has helped me become more empathetic towards them. There are so many things my husband does that used to tick me off. Now that we understand where these actions/reactions come from, we can talk about and be more aware of them before conflicts arise.  

“Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another and feeling with the heart of another.” – Alfred Adler


I am focusing this time on the Enneagram because I want to help encourage you. My hope for you is to take the time to learn more about yourself and others. I will be sharing quotes and printables to support you through this growth journey.

If you want to dive deeper into this journey with me and my husband, below are some of our favorite resources.


Free assessment – Like I said, I’m a personality assessment junkie so this is where I started. You can also read all the personality type descriptions and try to figure out your type that way. I just think assessments are more fun and gives you a straightforward result. If you can, get your significant other to take the assessment too!

For your ears – This is the podcast my friend recommended. I didn’t listen from the first episode. I chose to first focus on my own personality type and then my husband’s so I can put what I learn to use.

For your eyes – This is the most comprehensive website I have come across on the Enneagram. I especially love the Relationships (Type Combinations) section. It tells you what each type brings to the relationship as well as potential trouble spots for every type combination. This is one of the best tools for strengthening any relationship.

Books – Jake is currently reading The Road Back to You by Ian Cron (host of the Typology podcast) and Suzanne Stabile. Next on our list is Self to Lose, Self to Find by Marilyn Vancil.

Please remember your Enneagram personality type doesn’t define you. Rather, think of it as a roadmap to the best version of yourself. Next week, I’ll dig a little deeper into some of the basic Enneagram concepts so you can see the roadmap more clearly.

This is only part 1 of the Enneagram blog series! You can expect to see a new post every Monday and Thursday until mid-September. I hope these posts will start a conversation where we can support and encourage one another on this never-ending journey of personal growth.

Posted on August 16, 2018
The new Snail Mail Rubber Stamp Collection has been in the works for almost a month and I’m so excited to announce that it will be launching in just a couple of days! This collection will feature 10 custom return address stamps and 4 accessory stamps! All new listings will be live at 10 AM Eastern on Wednesday, April 11th!

About the Collection

As much as I use technology on a daily basis, I truly believe handwritten letters are more special than emails, paper invitations more personal than digital, and care packages can warm any heart. The Snail Mail Rubber Stamp Collection was created to make addressing your mail and packages easier and more fun than ever!

Who Would Love These Stamps

1) Couples that are planning a wedding. Every engaged couple can use a custom return address stamp to finish off their wedding envelopes. It not only saves time, but more importantly, the added stress that comes with hand addressing invitations.

2) New homeowners. The house portrait return address stamp makes a perfect housewarming gift! Seeing a sweet little illustration of their new home (that’s also functional) will sure put a smile on your gift recipient’s face.

house portrait return address stamp

3) Snail mail enthusiasts. If you enjoy expressing your love and care through care packages and handwritten notes, these accessory stamps will sure add an extra special touch on your mail.

All Letter + Adore stamps come ready to gift in a muslin bag placed in a box of white crinkle paper.
return address stamp gift

A Few Announcements

  • Each of the first 50 orders will receive a bonus “thank you” card, sneak peek in VIP group.
  • 4 design-specific promo codes will be shared by different creatives on social media. I will tag all 4 of them in my posts on Wednesday.
  • An exclusive giveaway will happen in my VIP group on launch day! Have you joined yet?

StazOn multi-surface ink pad

Posted on April 9, 2018

If you haven’t read my last blog or seen my recent social media post, my husband and I moved to Cambodia mid-February. There were some complications with our travels and it ended up taking us extra time and a trip to Singapore to get the visas we needed to stay here long-term.

Now that we’re settled in Phnom Penh, I’m jumping full force back into Letter + Adore.

For my first 3 years in business, I focused my time and energy on custom client work. I thoroughly enjoyed working with all my clients; however, I just won’t be able to keep it up as we get ready to expand our family.

With big life changes also come big business changes. Instead of custom calligraphy projects, you’ll see more product lines and fun collections coming to Letter + Adore in 2018. Here’s a quick rundown…

1) Release a rubber stamp line.

I am currently working on the Snail Mail Collection of the stamp line. On April 11, 10 new return address stamp designs will be hitting the shop, along with a few non-custom designs to add a fun touch to your envelopes! *Hint* The first 50 orders will include a bonus gift.

calligraphy return address stamp

2) Open up a digital shop by the end of summer.

This is something I’ve been mulling over for years and 2018 is finally the year to do it. I am slowly building a library of digital files to share with you before the end of summer. In the Letter + Adore digital shop, you’ll be able to purchase hand lettered svg files, printables, and calligraphy worksheets.

3) Create an Enneagram collection.

Ever since a friend from our life group shared about the Enneagram last fall, I have been hooked. If you’re a personality assessment junkie like me, go take this free Enneagram assessment now and let me know your type in the comment below. I have learned so much about my strengths and weaknesses, my tendencies in interacting with others, especially with my husband, and the areas that need growth. By the way, I am a 4, the Individualist.

Learning about the Enneagram has inspired me so much I decided to create a collection around it, including at least one product for each type.

4) Create a semi-custom invitation suite line.

As much as I love working with each individual couple to create the perfect invitation suites unique to them, the back and forth process just won’t fit in my current stage of life. I also understand that many couples are looking for elegant designs but don’t necessarily have the budget for full custom suites. With all that in mind, I’ll be working on a semi-custom paper goods line this fall with a projected launch date in January of 2019.

So there you have it…the 4 main projects I have slated for 2018. In addition to those, I also have a few smaller projects; like adding a wedding collection and business collection to the stamp line, designing more greeting cards, creating a Christmas collection with brand new products, etc.

Now I would love to hear what you have planned for 2018. Share with me in the comments and let’s achieve those big goals together this year!

Posted on March 19, 2018

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for months, but I wanted to wait until everything is settled before I give you an update.

My husband, Jake, and I spent a lot of time in 2017 talking about work-life balance, starting a family, and finding purpose in our daily work. These conversations eventually led to possibly moving to Cambodia, where I lived between the ages of 10 and 18 and where my parents still live.

Up until September, it was just an option. You see, it’s a little more complicated for a green card holder to move outside the US than just buying a plane ticket and packing up her life.

In October, we sent in my US Citizenship application.

In November, we started going through every corner of our apartment, donating things, selling things, and packing things up.

In December, we received an appointment notice for an interview on January 4th. We got excited that things are falling into places so we purchased our one-way tickets.

The week before Christmas, we moved into my in-laws’ house to transition.

On January 3rd, I got a phone call from the USCIS office saying they will be closed on the 4th due to a snow storm but I had the option to come down on the 3rd for my interview and oath.

I passed my interview and test but we encountered some technical difficulties and I had to come back on a different day for the oath of allegiance.

On January 8th, I took the oath and became an American citizen.

But I didn’t get to change my name from Hailun Xia to Helen Xia McVety as requested because a judge wasn’t present at the rescheduled appointment.

Here’s the problem, the name I used to purchase my ticket was Helen Xia McVety.

We didn’t want to risk not getting my name changed and getting a new passport in time for our February 11 flight, so we spent the last 2 weeks working with Expedia to get my name on the plane tickets changed to my current legal name.

It’s been a stressful month and it’s been a month since I last posted on social media. I feel so bad that I’ve just disappeared online but this social media hiatus has been so good for my soul. I simply haven’t had the mental capacity to create new content…

So why am I writing this post now? Well, as of this Monday, everything is squared away for our big move in February!!

How is Letter + Adore changing in 2018 with our move?

1) What Letter + Adore will be offering from 2018 forward

Since I will be spending the majority of each year in Cambodia, shipping hand painted signs from the other side of the world won’t really work. However, I have found ways to offer my custom hand lettered designs as printed signs, acrylic signs, wood signs, and fabric signs. The options are still endless!

I have recruited an amazing friend here in South Portland, Maine, to handle shipping. You can be rest assured that everything will still be made in the USA to ensure quality and reasonable turnaround time.

A full list of services and pricing coming soon!

2) I am taking on a limited number of weddings this year.

Although my main focus for 2018 is to spend more quiet time with God, explore Southeast Asia with Jake, and getting my body ready to carry a baby, I still want to serve my brides and serve them well. Thus, I will be taking on a limited number of weddings this year. If you’re interested in custom invitations, signage suites, day-of paper woods, be sure to fill out this inquiry form to secure your spot as early as possible.

Image by Silverbell Photography

3) Letter + Adore is going digital!

I’ve been mulling over this idea for years now and this international move is pushing me over the edge to finally open a digital shop. Of course, this is a huge undertaking and probably won’t be ready to launch until the end of 2018, but I want to give you a rough idea of what will be offered. In the Letter + Adore digital shop, you’ll be able to purchase original calligraphy cut files, printables, and calligraphy workbooks. More info to come on this!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you. It’s my heart’s desire that by making these changes, it will allow me to serve you in a more focused and creative manner.

I’m so excited about all the changes coming to Letter & Adore as well as my personal life in 2018! I’ll be spending the next month working on updating the website to reflect all the changes. In the mean time, you can follow along our journey on Instagram and/or Facebook.

Enough about me, tell me something exciting happening in your life in 2018! I’d love to hear and share your excitement 😃

Posted on January 23, 2018

It’s Letter & Adore’s 3rd anniversary and I’m so excited to celebrate this milestone with you!! Did you know that I opened my online shop exactly 17 days after Jake and I got married? A lot of have changed during the past 3 years: my lettering style, the products I offer, the branding, but most importantly, how I serve you.

Three years ago, I simply wanted a creative outlet. I made beautiful things to fulfill my creative needs. But now…

Now, I create for YOU. Documenting your most treasured memories is at the heart of Letter & Adore. That is why I want to give away something extra special this year – the “Remember When” Keepsake. This was my 3rd anniversary gift to my husband and one that we will cherish for a lifetime. It’s a collection of your favorite shared memories over the year(s) in watercolor and calligraphy. If you’re a sentimental gift giver like me, you’ll surely enjoy this giveaway!


Here are just a few ideas of how this can make a great gift:

  • Wedding day gift for your bride or groom – your favorite memories leading up to your wedding day
  • Anniversary gift for your spouse – your favorite memories in a year of marriage
  • Anniversary gift for your parents – their favorite memories in a year of marriage
  • Mother’s day gift – your favorite memories with mom
  • Father’s day gift – your favorite memories with dad
  • Gift for your child – your favorite memories and/or milestones in a year of your child’s life

Join the Celebration!

Thank you so much, from the bottom of my heart, for your support and encouragement along my creative entrepreneurial journey! Now head on over to Facebook or Instagram and find this post to enter the giveaway.

Posted on July 22, 2017
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