Sylvia & Me
Sylvia & Me
What I've Learned
Two years ago

This week I’m Sylvia and I’m ‘Me’. Two years ago I spoke to an extraordinary woman. Since then, I’ve spoken to over 100 women. 100 ordinary women doing extraordinary things. I didn’t set out with a specific goal in mind. But it turned out that as smart as I may have thought I am, I learned something new and different from each of these women.

The Women

For instance I spoke to Episode 10 Angie Atkinson, Queen Beeing of Narcissism. From Angie I learned that sometimes, even those that we are closest to, we need to stay away from for our own wellbeing. There are some things we just can’t fix and have to walk away from.

Episode 1 and Candace Lightner – Founder of Mother’s Against Drunk Driving and President of We Save Lives. Her daughter back in the 80’s was killed by a drunk driver. It wasn’t considered a crime in the ’80’s. Because of Candace it now is. What did I learn from Candace? Injustice has no time limit and change is possible if you’re passionate enough.

I learned that even if you’re a high school student, you can make a difference. That would be Lauren Klym, Episode 7. As she said: ‘You don’t have to be an adult to make change.’ Lauren’s school didn’t have a lockdown safety plan in place so she designed one.

Harriet Sugarman, Episode 49 and the climate crisis. Known as Climate Mama, Harriet went searching for a way to talk to her children about climate change. She didn’t find anything so she took action and founded ClimateMama. What did I learn? Actions speak louder than words.

The pandemic had Hazell Jacobs, Episode 52 in lockdown in her home outside of London. Looking for something to do, the 87 year old widow decided to start a blog. Her granddaughter Ella built her a website and on March 26, 2020 Busy Bee Blogger started blogging. Over the next 100 days wonderful, positive stories about 100 of Hazell’s scarves went out touching people around the world. Hazell taught me the power of connection, positivity and confirmed my belief that it’s never too late to learn something new.

Episode 53 brought us Simone Gordon, The Black Fairy Godmother. In the midst of supporting herself and her 2 year old non-verbal autistic son, and putting herself through school, Simone lost her job. Looking for resources to help with food, diapers and formula she found a group of women on Facebook who helped her. Looking to pay-it-forward Simon started fundraising and helping others in her community who are in emergency mode. Learned here – when push comes to shove, reach out. Asking for help is not a weakness. And make sure you pay-it-forward.

There’s probably a lot to be done if you just open your eyes and look in your own backyard. Erin Barnes, Co-Founder of ioby (in our backyard) was Episode 17. ‘Everyone should have the same opportunity to realize that small actions do make a big difference’.

Episode 55 and Leslie Gray Street the author of ‘Black Widow: A Sad-Funny Journey’. Leslie is Black and Baptist, her husband Scott was White and Jewish. Scott died suddenly after 5 years of marriage. ‘We were both respectful of each other’s backgrounds and faiths because we respected our own.’ Something right there is a great lesson.

Renée Brinkerhoff, Episode 56 had raised her four children. Now it was time for her. A coincidental meeting with an undercover FBI agent, the story of worldwide child trafficking and a percolating idea and Renée was off racing. That’s Valkyrie Rally Racing around the globe raising awareness and money fighting child trafficking. I learned that there are no coincidences, things do happen for a reason. You never know where your passion lies.

Episode 59 and Amra Sabic-El-Rayess. Amra is a Genocide Survivor. She was only 16 when it started. For 1,150 days Amra and her family lived under the Serb’s siege and survived the Bosnian genocide. Education got her through it along with a cat she never named.


Judith Shrevan, Episode 75 and the ‘Fear of Being Fabulous.

Fern L. Johnson and Marlene G. Fine Episode 92 – co-authors of ‘Let’s Talk Race’ – a white lesbian couple who adopted and raised two African American children.

Tzvia Bader Co-Founder of TrialJectory – Episode 93. There was no ‘Zillow’ database for cancer trials, so she built one. Being our own advocate.

Kathy Picard, author of ‘Life with My Idiot Family: A True Story of Survival, Courage and Justice Over Sexual Assault – Episode 94. Hear the children when they speak. And then fight like you’ve never fought before.

Former Congresswoman Katie Hill and Episode 39. It’s not okay. Cyber exploitation, using your voice and rising up.

Ordinary women doing extraordinary things

These women are ordinary women who have done extraordinary things. They show that we can help people even if we are only helping one person – our neighbor, friend or family, we are contributing to improving the human condition. In doing this we are connecting.

Those of us who are connected can make a change. And I’ve been lucky enough to have talked to these women who have allowed me this platform to share with you.