Some of you may read Sylvia's blog from 40+Style. It's not a personal style blog, it's a professional blog designed to aide women seeking guidance and inspiration on dressing themselves after 40.
Since her blog is more professional than personal I'd like you share a few interesting things I learned about Sylvia when I was in the Netherlands and stayed at her place.
First off, she was kind enough to let a total stranger come and stay at her wonderful newly decorated house in Haarlem...which is gorgeous BTW.
Before I went to Holland I'd connected more with Anja and Greetje through their blogs than Sylvia. Anja managed to convince Sylvia that it would be "a good idea" to have me come and stay at her house while she finished up some home renovations at hers. Sylvia generously agreed to this arrangement.
We both promised not to slit the other's throat in the night so we figured that was a good start.
A little story about when I first arrived at Sylvia's house...we got to know each other rather quickly due to special circumstances, the stairs up to my room were so narrow and steep that my suite case couldn't be carried up. Instead, I had to unpack everything in the living room and Sylvia helped me take it piecemeal up to my room. You get to know someone a lightening speed after carrying their sundries and undies upstairs.
This is what I came downstairs to find on my first morning at Sylvia's place...
How is that for welcoming?
Does this look like a woman that suffers from severe Ornithophobia?
Well she does. Big time. Just so you don't need to look that up it means a fear of birds. We had to move inside while eating at an outdoor patio because there were too many pigeons scrounging around and it was stressing Sylvia.
Little quirks. Everybody's got them.
When I first saw Sylvia she was seated in her living room in front of her computer...working away on her blog. She is a Wordpress/SEO/ blog builder genius.
I came to learn later she is also a dedicated perfectionist, overachiever, workaholic with laser sharpe business focus. She works hard and gets things done.
Sylvia has no time for BS. Like NONE. I find this refreshing. Like so many people from the Netherlands she is blunt but I think Sylvia has perfected this skill to a level above and beyond most other Netherlanders. No messin' about with her, you always know where you stand.
She is highly motivated and dedicated to improving herself which challenges those around her to improve themselves and raise their own personal expectations.
She doesn't waste time. Even when she is on a road trip or in the train she will listen to podcasts to constantly upgrade her skills to enable herself to approach problems from a new perspective. I really admire this.
She is a fast walker. She isn't that much taller than me, (I walk NYC fast) but Sylvia is twice as fast. She is like a whippet...thin and fast. I had to jog a little to keep up with her. This might be because she is a big sports enthusiast and like almost all type A personalities also intensely focused on personal achievement in physical activity and sports. She plays tennis regularly and fits in Zoomba, combat fitness, yoga or Pilate's. She is a firm believer in detox retreats and does them regularly. Don't be fooled by all of the heavy draped layers of fabric she often wears that hide her enviable figure, this woman has the great toned lithe body of a of a twenty year old. I saw it first hand when we were playing dress up.
She has either a hollow leg or a very fast metabolism, very likely both. I saw her eat almost an entire package of her favourite Dutch cookies while we were in the car on the way into Amsterdam and not gain an ounce. It isn't surprising that almost every photo I have of Sylvia shows her eating something...she enjoys eating just as much as me, but unlike me doesn't have to worry about it showing up on her thighs 5 minutes later.
Sylvia made it her personal mission to ensure that I tasted and understood some of the traditional foods of the Netherlands including what they eat for breakfast...which is basically candy sprinkles on buttered toast.
I also split my first Dutch Apple Pie with Sylvia.
My stomach is still thanking her for that chocolate bar she gave me last minute. I really wish I'd brought back about 50 of them. Everything they say about Dutch chocolate is true BTW...
Sylvia is up for more than you give her credit for. This is undoubtedly the most surprising thing about her. I thought we would get huge flack from her with our wacky idea to play dress up and have everyone wear someone else's clothes and be photographed in them but Sylvia was all game. In fact a bit of her alter ego surfaced (say Aloha to Magenta Marilyn) and we had a blast.
She wasn't as keen on the whole moustache idea. If I recall correctly it went something like this...
Sylvia, "What are those for?" pointing while making a face at the fake moustaches sitting on the table...
Anja, "To wear when we get dressed up."
Sylvia, "What for? "
Anja, "Just for fun."
Sylvia, "That's a bit silly."
Anja, "That's the point."
Despite her reservations she played along and was enthusiastic as well...I was delighted.
She isn't too focused on being an adult all the time to let go and have some fun which surprised me because she can come across as rather serious.
She is adventurous, even more-so than the other two gals which was another big surprise for me. She embraces opportunities even if they are out of her traditional comfort zone just for the experience. This is probably because she has lived in so many different countries.
She was willing to try my martini (which BTW I had to explain to the bartender how to make) and even agreed it was quite tasty. She was game to try a few other things with me as well, however I agreed that what happens in Holland stays in Holland... and my lips are sealed.
She contributed openly to conversations that I thought would make her feel uncomfortable and vulnerable and was hilarious when doing so. I felt that she was always willing to "rise to the occasion" so-to-speak.
She has a very specific sense of style, prefers quality over quantity and a very powerful sense of self and self worth.
She is aware of her weaknesses and chooses to focus on her strengths. She is intense, strong, funny and engaging.
She can walk through a store in 10 seconds flat and know if anything interests her or not.
She comes across as confident, fearless and determined.
She has a good generous heart, a wonderful laugh and a warm personality, all of which are not self evident until you are able to break down some of her professional barriers.
Sylvia taught me not to judge a book blog by its cover. I feel very lucky to have had the chance to have met her in person. But don't take my word for it...visit her blog. She has begun to open up more about her life and her loves and you can start to see some of the adventurous person I met while in the Netherlands.
Thanks again for letting me stay at your place Sylvia! I owe you one : )
PS: if you want to learn some crazy things I learned during my visit check out 10 Things I Learned While In Holland That Have Nothing To Do With Cheese, Windmills or Clogs.
If you want to get to know the other ladies I visited check out Anja the artist from The Curly Traveller here: Spilling The Beans On The Ladies Of The Netherlands - Part One or the film I made of the art installation that she calls home.
Read about Greetje, the lady that lives to laugh from No Fear of Fashion here: Everything You Wanted to Know ABout Greetje & More