"Life must go on, I just forget why" - Edna St. Vincent Millay
He had told her it would be difficult to be an artist and a mother, "too many living beings needing something from you" it would cloud her ability to hear herself - but she had thought she was different, stronger, more capable. Surely that spark would make her the exception. Now, as her first baby entered high school and her second was still scared to sleep alone at night, she felt the sting of his words like lemon juice on a paper-cut. The letter arrived as she lugged all the backpacks and bags of papers and projects, all the last day of school stuff, into the house. They had made it through another year. Summer break loomed with zero plans, and the letter arrived to fully deflate her. "Unfortunately you were not selected" Never mind that she had really felt good about her application, that the money would have justified doing the work she'd been wanting to do for months, that she had really believed she had a chance. She should have been more prepared for this rejection. Preparing for rejection defeats the purpose though, doesn't it? She used to do that version of humble really well - the one where you tell everyone why you don't really care if you get picked in order to create a buffer if you don't. She used to do that when the stakes were lower. Everything is different now because this work is her unique contribution to the world, the one thing no one else can offer. Fully submerged, all-in was required at this point. She had been all-in with that application and that is what made every cell feel drained dry now. She let her body lay down for a nap, every muscle released. When she woke she had to face the truth, her truth. If she was as committed as she had written on those pages, she did not need some jury to let her do that work. Permission was hers to grant herself.