We are NOT supposed to be happy all the time. I've learned to say this to my children in the last few years, so that they know. Life is NOT always happy and we don't need to pretend to be or feel something that we are not. We are on earth to gain experience and to feel a wide range of emotions. I explained to Addie last night that she can only know that she feels happy because she has felt sadness. It's only in and through opposition that we can choose for ourselves what we want to create and how we want to live.
Yet our American culture and our "modern" always on and supper-connected world can leave people feeling very disconnected, first with their true selves and even with others, who care for them deeply. There is so much emphasis put on (personal and public) happiness over almost anything and everything else—that it's incredibly easy to get caught up in false pretense, unrealistic expectations and debilitating comparison.
I guess I am writing today as a way of processing what I am feeling after reading more about the passing of Kate Spade. In case you don't know, Kate suffered from depression and took her own life on Tuesday. I'm not even sure why I am feeling all this so deeply other than I have admired her work and brand so much. She is one of a few "mentors" that I have established for myself with my own work and brand. For years I felt that I was too childish or immature in the way that I love and use color—I would tease myself out loud that I'm just a 12-year girl in a grown-up body—but I definitely fell into that comparison trap and wondered if I was just too weird. I thus began to look for other people, who were doing colorful things professionally and I began to learn from them and follow their work. I started by taking a 4-day design course with Leatrice Eiseman, the executive director of Pantone. In 2004 I realized that she lives in Washington state and I discovered a super expensive and kind of exclusive in-person event with her. I talked my boss into letting me go (ie. paying for it) and that was the beginning of me learning how to first accept and then express my colorful preferences. Kate Spade was the second mentor I added to my list along with Tricia Guild, Susan Sargeant, Alexandra Stoddard and Cortney and Robert Novogratz —all of these designers USE COLOR and all of them have inspired me and taught me how to feel more confident in my work. When I travel I seek out color inspiration and I love to photograph colorful, light-filled things. When I taught classes in London, back in 2007-ish, I visited Tricia Guild's store on King street and I purchased a little ceramic cup and saucer that still sits in my studio downstairs. Last year for spring break, Trey, Taft and I visited New York. I wanted to visit an NYC Kate Spade store and pick something out, but I talked myself out of it once I was there and have felt bad ever since. I did come home and order some sunglasses, which I LOVE, but I decided yesterday to celebrate Kate's life and influence on me by making a purchase online.
I adore the way Kate uses bright, fresh color with touches of black and white. This is something I too LOVE to do!
Even though Kate hasn't owned her brand for several years, it's a way for me to remember the JOY that she has consistently infused into the world of fashion, which can be so fleeting and fickle! I will be proudly sporting my new gingham watch when I teach at the upcoming Close To My Heart convention, and I am now going to refer to my cute little stripe-y Story Starter album, as the one with the Kate Spade stripes. Thank goodness we have enjoyed her brilliance for as long as we have and I will pray for her surviving family and close friends. From what I know and understand of depression, I feel certain that Kate saw no other alternative than to leave this life. I therefore hope we continue to learn more about how to love, support, encourage, reach out to and help those with mental illness. We cannot know who in our circles of influence are struggling, so we have got to check in and BE KIND—to EVERYONE and stop making depression and other such maladies something to be or feel ashamed by. We have got to stop losing beautiful, unique, creative souls who do so much to brighten this world.
Kate will be missed!