I do wonder, as I sit here at my desk on a slightly chilly August morning, what a Fascinating Lady actually is? I am easily diverted by the weather – should it be this cold and wet in August? – and as I sit and ponder I realise that actually, the world is populated by Fascinating Ladies and suddenly the sun comes out.
If you patiently peel away the layer of ordinary that covers every woman, you will discover treasure beneath. We are all extraordinary in our own way and there are remarkable qualities in us all.
On this occasion, it is my pleasure and honour to tell you of the loyal and kind, skinny, slightly eccentric and inspirational fireball founder of totally4women.
Carolyn Lazarus was many things. Wife and mother, daughter and sister, friend to many.
I met her when she set up totally4women (t4w) and invited me to be a contributing writer. To say Carolyn had no experience in the field of publishing and online tech is an understatement! Her background was in law but what she lacked in experience she more than made up for with energy, fortitude and enthusiasm. Concealing her nerves and with a steely determination to succeed, Carolyn forged new relationships, listened, learned and started to bring her vision to life.
Recognising that a good healthy dose of press coverage would help to boost awareness, Carolyn found herself interviewed by BBC4 Woman’s Hour and she was also featured in Good Housekeeping magazine and the Daily Mail.
Carolyn’s concept of an online community for women where experiences could be shared, questions asked and support offered struck a chord with many and as t4w started to soar and Carolyn multitasked like a whirlwind.
She never failed to offer a ready smile, time to listen, news to share. We would chat from time to time but mostly we exchanged emails and in them Carolyn revealed snippets of herself; she was always honest, sometimes vulnerable, constantly funny.
Death is terrible. Carolyn’s was unexpected and shocking. Her cancer crept up stealthily, zapping her strength and consuming her body. Her courage never failed and her thoughtfulness never faltered. I was on the periphery of Carolyn’s circle but despite her frailty she drew me in generously and I know I am richer for having known her.
When I remember Carolyn, I don’t have a lifetime’s worth of memories to draw from but I think of the conversations we shared and the funny stories she put up on t4w. I remember her telling me about her children, about her husband Marc and about her weekly tennis games.
I think of how she was a fabulous runner (that’s why she was so skinny!) and of her amazing and almost unstoppable gusto for life. In the very best of ways, Carolyn was ordinary on the outside but exceptional within and I feel that she would be delighted to see that t4w is merging with Henpicked.
To know that her initial notion of an online platform for women to share their life experiences has evolved to such a degree would make her enormously proud. If she could, I know Carolyn would be running as fast as ever, shouting out words of encouragement, throwing a few curveballs and relishing the prospect of ever widening the net of this fabulous Henpicked and t4w community of Fascinating Ladies.