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Have you every felt completely overwhelmed with where your life is at?

You lie in bed at night thankful the day is over, but at the same knowing that tomorrow will bring more of the same?

It’s not easy, but you’re managing to hold your own. In fact, you’re actually starting to pull yourself out of the muck, and learning how to handle your “new normal”…..

but then something else gets thrown your way…

….and you wonder how on earth you can possibly handle it all…and for how long?

You long for the light at the end of the tunnel – because you know that eventually it will come…..although maybe not as soon as you would like.

If there is one thing I’ve learned about life, it’s that it’s a wild ride.  Like a roller coaster, it’s filled with ups and downs, and very few straightaways.

It feels as though that has been my reality for last 16 years.  And I’ve noticed that every time I feel as though I’ve reached the end of my rope I enter what I call “survival” mode.  Which is to say that I simply try and get through each day by putting one foot in front of the other and keeping my eyes focused upwards….waiting for the day when things once again start to get better.


Standing in my studio last week, when I saw the Donna Downey stamp set “As I See It” sitting out on my desk, I saw the saying  “Trust in the timing of your life” and  I had such a moment of clarity.

As I stood there staring at the stamp I realized that I have been looking at my life’s challenges in totally the wrong way.

If I look at the last 16 years I would have to say that I can probably, roughly divide those years into thirds – 1/3 of the time I’ve been “up”, 1/3 of the time I’ve been “down” and 1/3 of the time I’ve been on a “straightaway”….give or take.

That means that for 1/3 of those years rather than truly living, I’ve kept myself in a “holding” pattern. Which to be totally, brutally, harshly honest with myself means that I have wasted the potential of those years.

Difficult times represent the opportunity to grow…not just a little…..but a lot…really, more than at any other time in our life. The most simple analogy I can think of how fire is used to refine precious metals like silver and gold – to bring out their purity and their beauty.

If our trials are like fire, then their purpose is to refine us, to refine our character, to make us stronger, more compassionate, more purposeful, more impactful on the world around us.  I have been wasting that potential.  But not any more.

While I will never, ever look forward to the difficult times (obviously) – I can say that I will now approach them with new eyes.  I will trust in the timing of what is happening in my life. And know that I can do so much more than survive.  Instead I can look for opportunities to grow through them.

These are the thoughts that are expressed in my art journal page.  The bright colors represent the smooth times, the good times and the great times. The pattern of numbers and letters sponged in black represent the difficulties that come bursting into our life, bringing darkness, which, if we allow it, will attempt to slowly creep into and shadow every aspect of our life and our being. Trust – bright white – is my beacon – it cuts through the darkness and gives me strength to not just survive but to grow and even thrive because of…in spite of..circumstance.

If you’ve been reading my art journaling posts then you will know that while I consider art journaling to be a fun and creative release, more often, it has become a channel for exploring my thoughts, my emotions, my life.  So often when I find that I cannot find the words, how I feel will manifest through my art. In that way, art journaling has become a deeply meaningful process for me.

I like to say that I work from despair towards hope.  In other words when I start my page, I pour my struggles onto my page – whether through words, imagery, color, texture or pattern.  And then I work towards “hope”.  I find a thought, a quotation, a Scripture, or even a simple word that reminds me that I am not alone and that encourages me – and I will use that to finish off my page.  That page then serves as a reminder for me.

So often when I am in the midst of a difficult circumstance – whatever it may be, I will go back to my journal, look at my art, absorb the messages, and then feel ready to move forward.

Here is the video tutorial I created for this art journal page which shows you my process from start to finish.  I created this for my Artist Gang Tuesday post on the Donna Downey studios blog:

Here is another shot from my journal – I am working in the large Dylusions journal.


You can find a full supply list on Donna’s blog and links to where you can purchase the products if you are interested.  You can also check out past Artist Gang posts here. There are a lot of talented artists that are a part of the Artist Gang, and new videos are posted every Tuesday.

I hope you enjoyed today’s video tutorial. If you haven’t already, please be sure to subscribe to the  You Tube Channel I’ve created specifically for the Art of Simple blog HERE so that you don’t miss a single video tutorial.

You can also follow me on Facebook on my Andrea Walford Designs Facebook Page.

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