Are there things in your life that just feel hard, and you are having trouble moving past them? Are you holding onto expectations and things in your life that aren’t serving you anymore? Artist, Jessica Swift’s world completely changed when her husband Ryan died in August 2018 – leaving Jessica pregnant and with a toddler. As Jessica was grieving, art projects began to emerge. Today Jessica is going to share her story with us, including her grieving process, and how art has been helping her through this difficult time – helping her reframe her expectations and realize that she CAN do unimaginably hard things.

Jessica Swift is a 100% self-taught, full-time artist, surface pattern designer, painter and business owner, who has never had a “real grown-up job”. She hails from sunny Boulder, Colorado and currently lives in the Pacific Northwest in Portland, Oregon. In 2008, she discovered how to create patterns, and fell in love with the process. Soon after, she began licensing her artwork and created the popular online class & community called “Pattern Camp”. She also created “Campfire” which is an online community that talks openly about the real struggles members have in their creative process. Jessica’s transparent and authentic style resonates with her many followers, and I’m honored she’s sharing her story with us today.



  • Follow our intuition

  • Do hard things

  • Let go of things that are not serving us anymore

  • Be open and vulnerable in order to work through things

  • Be gentler on ourselves

  • Let art guide us through our pain

  1. When you don’t have community physically around you, build it online.

  2. Follow the next right move that presents itself.

  3. Let yourself feel tough things because when you do, you will move through it and feel something else on the other side of it.

  4. It’s ok to talk about hard stuff. You will likely feel better when you talk about it because you won’t have it locked inside of you anymore.

  5. Be ruthless in your letting go of things that are not serving you anymore…and let them go as quickly as you can.

  6. Go with the flow – let things be the way they are and stop trying to wish things were another way or trying to make them some other way. Accept them as they are and let go of your expectations and judgements.

  7. Don’t worry about how things are going to work out, just trust that they will because they always do.

  8. We get to decide what the next, right, authentic move for ourselves is.

  9. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, even when you don’t want to.

  10. Life is really about…love, taking care of your people, letting other people in, being in a community, trusting yourself and listening to your intuition, doing what feels right for yourself because why not? Isn’t that what we are here to do?

Highlight REAL Podcast, Episode #08 "How to Work Through Hard Things" with Jessica Swift
Highlight REAL Podcast, Episode #08 "How to Work Through Hard Things" with Jessica Swift

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, here’s some resources where you can begin to get some help. This stuff is real, please get help and don’t do it alone!


What will serve you the best right now – instead of forcing yourself to do the things on your “list of expectations”?

Do it, friend.

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  • Thank you for sharing Jessica Swift with the world. She has been a big inspiration in my creative life. As one of the original “Pattern Campers” I feel I’ve gotten to know her a bit as she has allowed herself to be honest and vulnerable with her community. I know this interview was not easy, and she is always in my prayers. I Iook forward to following Jessica’s story, along with her beautiful art, and a future road paved with love, joy and amazing possibilities. To quote the Artist…”Jump.Trust.Repeat”!

  • So beautiful listening to this fabulous post that resonates with me deeply. In 2014 I was hit by a car while riding my bike home from work. I’ve been through many things in my life but this experience was life changing and continues to be. I suffer from a diagnosis called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome which is constant and different degrees on different days. It effects my sleep, my physical mobility, my focus and so much more. I’ve been a graphic designer for over 30 years and prior to the bike accident, I was beginning a career shift into pattern design. I fell in love with it because it is bringing back the illustrator/fine artist that I’ve always been but for various reasons…had walked away from for over a decade until this rebirth. So when I experienced the accident, I was confined, in rehabilitation, hospitalized (I fell twice, broke my arm just below the shoulder and also had a DVT) and the biggest challenge was living by myself and finding my way as to how I was going to regain my independence again. There were times the pain was so unbearable I literally didn’t want to live, but deep inside, I did want to live. I was just working out what my new life was going to be. I continued to create pattern design and to be involved in an online art group that I belong to today. Beautiful energy and rejuvenation has become of my journey and the love and support I’ve experienced has magnetized to me. I am so grateful. I am so grateful for this podcast and the message because it is spot on. My artwork has evolved in ways I never would have dreamed of and it is so addictive. I feel more alive, grateful and compassionate then I have ever felt. This accident gave me opportunities I never would have had and I am excited for the rest of my senior years as an artist. Thank you so much Jessica Swift. Wishing you all the beauty and bounty life has to offer.