"Work hard, be powerful, and you will be great."
Those words were said to me at a young age by a teacher of mine who I still thank for being where I am. He spoke volumes in very little words, nurtured what he saw were my strengths and taught me lessons I carry with me.
My parents and family did the same, and I am forever grateful.
I believed them.
But, sometimes life tells you that is moot.
I have been blessed with strong women in my life. I serve on the Board of the St. John's Status of Women Council and I am forever in awe at the diverse, powerful, kickass group of sisters who sit around the table and discuss activism and policy to benefit our fellow women. We are trailblazers who follow the path beaten by women who sat around kitchen tables in St. John's and strategized ways to smash the barriers that were placed in front of us.
And we lost one this week.
The first day I walked in and sat around the table, I remember being in awe of Tammy Carpenter. Her strength, wit, power and dedication to improving the lives of women in any position were all breathtaking. She was a powerhouse, and someone I always considered myself blessed to have gotten to know. When her absences were frequent I never imagined that cancer could take down such a force of nature, such an icon for women's advocacy, and such a wonderful person.
But it did.
And today, Kate Spade died.
There are those who will say we should not grieve "celebrities" or be affected by their deaths. But, when someone who thrived on colour and making the lives of others brighter takes their own life, we get a punch of reality.
I've never owned a Kate Spade product. I've rolled my eyes at those who would spend that much money on an accessory. I have never been a person who could justify such a luxury.
But, Kate Spade was a person. A woman. Successful. A woman who's colourful world was not enough to battle her demons so she put a noose around her neck and left this world behind.
It's a stark reality.
We are told to be strong, to fight, to be powerful. Yet, our demons, diseases, all come to take us down and tell us it does not matter.
And it's often hard, in times like these, to see the good.
Be kind to one another. And love. In the end, that is all we can do.
Through tears this week, I saw a powerful message from a strong sister who has faced her own trials over the past months:
"This living, it is messy. But it is beautiful."
And that is what must carry us through.
If you are struggling, reach out. Nobody is alone in this. We're all in this messy place together.