2016 has been a year of solitude for me. It hasn't been by choice, but rather uncontrollable circumstances of illness, the ups and downs of taking care of a baby, as well as living in a new area. And even with some family nearby and seeing one or two friends weekly, emotionally I have felt somewhat alone too. And before you feel bad or sad for me, you should know that I'm writing this blog post to tell you that I believe it was the single biggest contributor to the "success" and growth of my business and myself this year. 

In fact, the original title of this blog post was going to be something along the lines of don't #findyourtribe, #beanomad. Haha! More thoughts below, but in all seriousness, all of the #FOMO (fear of missing out) that I initially experienced when we made the move from Central Phoenix to Chandler has dissipated to the point that I can see my solitude as a gift and a healing time for me.

Why? Well, all of my energy that used to be spent in other ways was channeled into "survival" mode where I was focusing on myself, my marriage, my kids and my business, and less on friendships and business relationships. And, honestly, that's what my priorities should always be. This year I realized that I had my priorities a bit backwards, especially when it came to using my time wisely for my business. As an operating extrovert and a regular face among the creative community and blogging community in the Phoenix area, I used to spend a lot of time on collaborations, meet ups and networking events. They weren't bad ways to spend my time, but weren't and will never be the core of what can fulfill me personally and grow my business.

My circumstances of having to be home a lot to care for a sick baby made me put my head down and work my ass off on my blog and on my craft as a stylist inside the confines of my house with the small bit of work time I had. And the rest of the time was spent on being a better mother, wife and figuring out what self-care looks like for me in times of stress. Hands down, I would say I have created some of the best imagery of my career, designed amazing spaces for my family and healed a lot of pain in my heart. And on paper, well, my revenue is at a record high, and I've had the most brand partnerships to date. I would also say that the personal growth in me and the self-discovery is truly reflected in my art, and, at the same time, my art has been a healing and freeing outlet for my mind when I needed to escape some of the trying moments of motherhood.

I say all of this on a public space like my blog because I love transparency and encouraging people through my own experiences, as well as to challenge any #fomo you may be experiencing. 

I keep seeing more and more "creative meet-ups," "creative collectives" and people urging others to "#findyourtribe," and a part of me cringes when I see it. Not because they are bad, but because they often become pretty distractions for us. Sometimes the longing of belonging gets the best of us, and we forget that solitude can sometimes be what we need. 

And, truthfully, if you want to help your creative community grow and lead it you have to lead by example and be a master at your own craft first. It has taken me 7 years to realize this, but I get it now. I have to keep my skills sharp so that I can help my community and help those I'm in relationship with. My contribution will be much more powerful if I maintain my expertise in my craft and share that knowledge with others here and there rather than always saying yes to the next party. 

In 2017, I hope that the sickness in my family subsides, and that I can get back out and be more in relationship with others, but I'm going into this year feeling comfortable saying "no" more, investing in a few strong friendships and knowing what is most life-giving to myself and others.

So, if you are currently in a season of solitude, loneliness or you are given a season like this in 2017, this may be your best year yet. Just you wait and see!

Photo by Rennai Hoefer