thinking about rejection, failure and messages from the universe

I've been thinking about these things for almost two weeks, planning this post, but also contemplating my thoughts and feelings for me, too. Writing in my journal, collecting quotes and sometimes just sitting and thinking.

This year, as part of my goals for fulfilling my word of the yearrealize, I've been trying to get my art "out there" more.

(My Mati Rose print in my studio is a great reminder).

I've never really done much marketing and most of the shows/fairs that I've been involved in I was approached and invited. I know that that's no way to run a business and that I need to overcome my fears. It's been slow and I'm not very good at it, but I've been trying to stretch and reach a little more. Last week I got a rejection letter in the mail. I hadn't really expected that I'd be rejected for this, so my first reaction was surprise. And then disappointment. In truth, none of what I've been applying for lately has been panning out. I've been really stretching because I think you need to stretch for things that are probably unattainable, that the stretching is good for you and that eventually you will reach those seemingly unattainable goals. Even so, it's good to actually reach a few goals, too.

I tried not to let the rejection get me down, but I was feeling kind of disappointed. I kept working on the painting that was on my work table that day, but I was distracted and discouraged (and the painting was in that middle stage where it seems as if it isn't going very well).

The next day I found that someone had bought a necklace and a bracelet from my Etsy shop. It was the biggest sale I'd had for a while and it was as if the universe were saying, "Don't be discouraged. You're on the right track. Keep going."

So I started thinking about what rejection means. About how we don't like to admit rejection or really talk about it very much at all. When someone is famous and successful they may admit, almost laughingly, the pile of rejection letters they received before "making it". In the thick of it, though, rejection seems to be kept as a dirty little secret, and yet, rejection is just a natural part of life.

I wrote this in my journal the afternoon I received the rejection letter,

"What can I learn from this? What can I take away? What do I feel and think deep down inside?... Going back to my word of the year -- what I do need to do is REALIZE --> come to an understanding of what this path that I'm on should look like. Where this path should be leading. Even with rejection I am not a failure if that rejection can help to lead me in the right direction... Rejection can make us work harder. Rejection can help us to strive. It can make us think outside of the box and to problem solve. It can help us to ask questions and find answers. These paths of ours are not straight. None of us have clear, smooth, straight paths."

Then I stumbled upon the following quote on Pinterest,

"As I look back on my life, I realize that every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being re-directed to something better."
                    -- Dr. Steve Maraboli


I think the most important thing is not to give up.

"Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time."
                    --Thomas Edison

It's actually been wonderful to be spending time contemplating these things. To be gathering quotes and wisdom from other people and to be listening to my own story and trying to figure out my own path.

Later that week I needed to buckle down and get my contribution for the Handmade Joy Exchange put together. I was having a lot of fun figuring out what things I was going to make and then actually making them. I was filled with joy as I was creating. And I thought about how eight other people were making things and was hoping that their creations were bringing them joy as well. A phrase kept going through my head as I was working, "do small things with great love." And I started thinking about putting love out there into the world. About how the world needs more love. Then I noticed something on my palette.

I see hearts everywhere. All the time. And it's fun to collect them, but this tiny pink paint heart made me so happy. The universe saying "Yes" again.

When I looked up the quote that had been going through my head, I found that it is from Mother Teresa,

"Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love."


Do I have everything figured out? No. But I know this, I am not a failure.

"Rejected pieces aren't failures; unwritten pieces are."
                    --Greg Daughtery

(Unwritten, unpainted, unsewn, unplanted, uncomposed... )

I am at the beginning of my journey (which is no time to stop or give up). I will keep moving forward. Keep focusing on beauty and joy and LOVE. The world needs more of all of them. I will keep creating and keep stretching and make my own circuitous creative path.

And I hope you will, too. Whatever it is that you do or want to do. Keep doing it. Keep going. Never give up.

"Write it. Shoot it. Publish it. Crochet it, sauté it, whatever. MAKE"
                    --Joss Whedon


  1. There is a lot to absorb in this post Anne and I think I will come back and read it another time too. I have been thinking a lot about being a failure recently and also of my constant need of approval and worthiness. As my word of the year is persevere I will just keep going. I see a rose next to the heart in your paint palette. It made me smile. Maybe the Universe is sending me a message too? :)

  2. I have learned so much from this post, Anne - your ponderings are already helping others! And I think that you spread joy all the time - with your artwork, your photography and your words. And the handmade joy exchange is such a beautiful idea. Take heart, your stars will align at the right time. You are destined for success.

  3. Anne, you helped me by sharing your thoughts, I feel that you put exactly what I just needed to hear now. Judy is right saying that you are destined for success. You are such a talented and beautiful soul!

  4. You are so thoughtful in your posts! Your ability to turn disappointments into windows of opportunity is what keeps me reading your blog. You have a gift for finding joy :) An idea for you if you'd like to learn more about marketing: is offering a 5 week series of videos and live chats that starts today on "Creative Branding". Find out the details all the details here: I'm taking it because the women teaching it are all successful working artists. Have a good week!

  5. Sometimes the universe knocks on our door . . . sometimes in BANGS on it LOUD in case we're napping. I'm so glad you answer the door.

  6. Rejected = Redirected. I love that. Think I'm going to paint it in huge letters on my wall so I don't forget. ;)

  7. Thank you, everyone, for your kind, thoughtful comments. Your encouragement means so much to me!

  8. Anne, I am just catching up here. I have so much to share that it's too much to write! If I had a special website that wasn't a window for everyone (proffesionals and future colleagues inc.) I would tell a different, more truthful story - I have been so low as well as so high - it is hard. I can hear that you're on the right rack because of your reflections but that doesn't lesson the pinch when it comes. I got told earlier this year that unless my work style changed radically, not to ever apply for a certain show again! I can laugh now but at the time...
    Just keep on, keeping on Claire x

  9. Ahhh yes, the Rejection Letter. I have always written stories. My first I believe was when I was 4, and trust me it isn’t very riveting. When I turned 27 I asked myself, why are you not trying to get published? You love it so much, you write every day, you’ve written a best seller (yes all us authors tell ourselves this) just try it out. So I wrote a new book, studied up on how to get published, polished off a query letter, edited said book…etc. I sent off my query letter with a smile on my face, sure that this was it. I even got a request for pages! Whoopee, I’m going to be an author. My first rejection letter came 10 days later. It was the first of over 50 rejections I’ve gotten in the last 2 years. Yep they still sting, but now I’m at the point where I just want to prove them wrong.

    I keep one thing in mind when it comes to creativity and public opinion. This is a quote by the journalist Russell Maloney from the New Yorker (pretty reputable publication). In 1939 Russell wrote “I sat cringing before MGM’s Technicolor production…which displays no trace of imagination, good taste, or ingenuity…. I say it’s a stinkeroo.” He was critiquing The Wizard of Oz. Kind of far off the mark there, weren’t you Russell.

    Later, upon meeting Steven King, he told a group of us. “I’m just lucky. I started getting rejected for the same thing at the age of 8. If I had started getting rejected at 30 I might have quit. When publishing Carrie at the age of 27 I had 14 publishing houses tell me that I had no talent and shouldn’t be allowed to be an English teacher. I never forget that, but most importantly I don’t forget the new house I bought when Carrie sold out.”

    Don’t give up Anne! Creativity is easy to judge, reject, give up on. It is those beauties like you, with passion like yours that end up proving them wrong. I’m so proud of you saving your rejection, writing it down, growing from it. No doesn’t mean never.

    Keep up the good work!


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