Princess Diana Taught Us the Importance of Living Life on Our Own Terms

Princess Diana, Women's History Month It's safe to say that there are certain ladies who left their mark on this world and touched us in ways that are sometimes tough to explain. And for me, both as a woman and as a mother, the impression left behind by the late Princess Diana is impossible to forget -- and one to remember especially during this Women's History Month.


We all have those poignant moments in our lives when something so important or significant happened -- that merely thinking about it takes us back to the exact moment in time where we happened to be when it occurred.

For me, I will never forget the feelings of disbelief and overwhelming sadness I felt when a sorority sister of mine marched into my dorm room and said something along the lines of, "Did you hear the awful news? Princess Diana was killed in a car crash."

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I thought she was mistaken. Or joking. Or talking about some other Princess Diana -- because there was no way Prince William and Prince Harry's beloved mother could have been taken from this earth in such a horrific and sudden way.

But sadly, after turning on the TV, I saw that she was telling the truth, and that -- in the blink of an eye -- the woman so many people grew up knowing as the "People's Princess" suddenly ceased to exist. While she's not likely to be forgotten any time soon, let's take a moment to remember exactly why the memory of her life on this earth is something that will never leave us.

Who She Is

Diana was more than just the Princess of Wales. Sure, she may have had a fancy title and will always be known as the shy, fresh-faced young woman who married into the British monarchy, but the legacy she left behind has so much more to do with her heart and who she was as a human being as opposed to anything having to do with royalty.

Perhaps the greatest role she ever served was that of mother to Prince William and Prince Harry. Being a parent is challenging enough under the most normal circumstances. Couple motherhood with being thrust into a lifestyle where you feel trapped, alone, and like a stranger in your own household -- and it certainly doesn't make for an easy existence. Despite all of the obstacles presented by her home life, however, somehow Diana wound up raising two boys who grew into men she would be incredibly proud of today.

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How She Shaped History

Perhaps the biggest way Princess Diana left her mark on history is through her extensive charity efforts. From AIDS research to various health issues and children's causes and from her work against the use of land mines to the protection of animals, Diana will always be remembered as someone who put the needs and well-being of others first and foremost. She wanted to use her place in the royal family as a means for good, and she succeeded.

Her Words to Live By

Princess Diana has more than her fair share of memorable quotes. Here are some of my favorites.

On civic duty:

Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.

On love:

If you find someone you love in your life, then hang on to that love.

On compassion:

The greatest problem in the world today is intolerance. Everyone is so intolerant of each other.

On being true to yourself:

Only do what your heart tells you.

On motherhood:

I want my boys to have an understanding of people's emotions, their insecurities, people's distress, and their hopes and dreams.

On living life:

I don't go by the rule book. I lead from the heart, not the head.

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Why She Inspires Me

The biggest reason Princess Diana inspires me and always has is because she had the courage to start her life over from scratch when she realized she'd been dealt a hand that was wrong for her. It takes plenty of strength to leave a marriage and make the choice to live life as a single mom. But to leave the royal family all while knowing the negative effect it might have on your reputation? Yeah. If that in itself doesn't inspire me and countless others to be strong, independent women regardless of what the rest of the world might think, I don't know what does.

She taught me that it's never too late to start over, get things right, and live life authentically on your own terms. Anything less than that isn't a life at all. It's merely an existence. And I'll always be thankful to her for reminding me of the difference.


Image via Bettmann/CORBIS

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